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Medical Marijuana: Los Angeles City Council Approves Measure to Cap Dispensaries at 70

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #612)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Under a measure passed Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city will shrink by more than 90%. The council voted to cap the number of dispensaries at 70, while recent estimates put the number of actually operating medical marijuana outlets in the city at between 800 and 1,000.

medical marijuana dispensary, Ventura Blvd., LA (courtesy
The vote is only the latest in the council's tortuous and twisted four-year effort to regulate the city's booming medical marijuana retail industry. There were four dispensaries in the city when the council first tackled the issue in 2005. By the time the council issued a moratorium on new dispensaries in 2007, there were 186. In the past two years, their numbers have increased four-fold from there.

Of the dispensaries that legally registered with the city prior to the moratorium, officials believe 137 are still open. Those establishments will be allowed to stay open, but may have to move to comply with restrictions on where they may locate.

"I think we should hold true to those that followed the rules," said Councilman Dennis Zine, explaining why he voted to reward dispensaries that were legally registered.

If Los Angeles actually does cap dispensaries at 70, that will mean roughly one dispensary for every 50,000 residents. In Oakland, the only other large city in the state to impose a cap, four dispensaries serve 100,000 residents each. Other, smaller, California cities with caps include Berkeley (one dispensary for each 34,000 residents), Palm Springs (one for each 24,000 residents), West Hollywood (one for every 9,000 residents), and Sebastopol (one for every 3,500 residents).

The council will return to try to actually pass its medical marijuana ordinance next week. There are signs it is going to revisit its decision of two weeks ago to impose a 1,000-ft. restriction on dispensaries near schools, parks, and similar facilities after advocates argument the restriction would effectively ban dispensaries from broad swathes of the city.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Jean Boyd (not verified)

So much for support for small businesses. Looks like the council wants medical marijuana corporations. One corporation to serve 50,000 people. By imposing the 1000 ft. restriction on dispensaries near schools, parks and "similar facilities", the "council" is pushing dispensaries into one area. And how do they define similar facilites? Councilman Zine's statement about rewarding those that followed the rules does not add up to me. Sounds like tar paper.

Fri, 12/11/2009 - 9:04pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Did the LA City Council forget to consider tax revenues lost when the medical marijuana businesses are forced to move elsewhere?

Sun, 12/13/2009 - 6:50am Permalink
Lincoln (not verified)

In reply to by Ray (not verified)

Really? why? because they still want to be able to monitor everything. hard to keep track of any 700 businesses much less their activities. There is also a reasonable possibility that they are trying to work some deal with federal prosecutors and DEA . . . you can have this many, if we get to keep the 70 that we have the most personal interest in . . . that sort of thing. Basically and in short though you can bet on one thing: this is what the money and power have asked them to do or given them the ultimatum of.
Mon, 01/09/2012 - 5:07pm Permalink

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