Hundreds of L.A. Marijuana Dispensaries May Go Up in Smoke

July 9, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The Los Angeles City Council is on a mission to shut down nearly 600 marijuana dispensaries that were able to open for business with limited paperwork or permits in the past two years, due to a loophole in a city ordinance allowing dispensaries to bypass the moratorium on opening new cannabis clubs, by claiming a hardship exemption.

In the past two years, the number of marijuana dispensaries in L.A. has mushroomed from 183 to nearly 800 and now neighborhood groups are up in arms and demanding that the marijuana clubs be shut down. The City of San Francisco, by comparison, has about 30 marijuana dispensaries in operation.

Certainly 800 medical marijuana dispensaries seems like a lot for one city, but the City Council failed to implement common-sense regulations and allowed every one of the hardships applications to go forward unchallenged.

The growth in L.A. cannabis clubs began ironically in 2007, after the city attorney’s office issued a moratorium to block new dispensaries, until the City Council could implement new regulations, such as a ban on operating near schools.

However, the City Council never got around to creating new regulations and hundreds of medical marijuana entrepreneurs flocked to the city obtaining hardship exemptions. The standards for claiming a hardship were low and business was booming.

The City Council is now in the process of closing the hardship loophole and issuing weekly notices to dozens of newly opened dispensaries ordering them to shut down operations, or face a fine.

Many dispensary owners intend to fight to stay open, claiming the City didn’t object when they opened and allowed the hardship exemptions.

Meanwhile, scores of other dispensary owners are operating under the constant threat that they may be forced to close down, but the medical marijuana business in L.A. continues to operate at a brisk pace.

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