LA City Council Approves New Medical Marijuana Clinic Rules

By Shirley Jahad, originally on Southern California Public Radio

A man walks past a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, CA.

The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Wednesday to new rules governing medical marijuana clinics. This isn’t the first time it’s happened.

The L.A. City Council spent much of the past couple of years in a back-and-forth effort to come up with rules to govern medical marijuana dispensaries.

First, city council members discovered that nearly a thousand dispensaries had opened in Los Angeles after they’d imposed a moratorium on the facilities. It turned out the moratorium had a loophole, and new dispensaries were popping up like… well, like weeds.

The council moved to close hundreds of those dispensaries, and to close loopholes that might let some stay open. They passed a wide-ranging ordinance that governed who could dispense medical marijuana – and where.

The Body Shop using the cannabis leaf on their windows

The city’s new medical marijuana ordinance passed a few months back would have wiped out all but 40. But many owners of legally registered dispensaries complained that they’d followed the city’s rules – but still had to close.

Council member Janice Hahn led the effort to pull back the reins a bit. “We felt like our original ordinance needed to be clarified a bit more so that the city attorney does not go after clinics that we think are legitimate.”

Now the council is giving final approval to amendments that relax the rules a bit. Hahn says the city’s intent is to have about 180 medical marijuana dispensaries operating legally in Los Angeles.

None of them are allowed within a thousand feet of schools and churches. The new ordinance gives dispensary operators six more months to comply.

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