Policy-ish

Los Angeles Postpones Vote On Restricting Marijuana Shops

Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles got a reprieve Wednesday as the City Council delayed a vote on regulations that could, by some estimates, leave less than a dozen in business.

Click on image for medical marijuana timeline i i
Timeline: the highs and lows of medical marijuana/Timeline: the highs and lows of medical marijuana
Click on image for medical marijuana timeline
Timeline: the highs and lows of medical marijuana/Timeline: the highs and lows of medical marijuana

It was an "unexpected decision," the Los Angeles Times reports, and will probably push final action into 2010 on an ordinance to stem the proliferation of medical marijuana shops, which have become more common than Starbucks outlets in some L.A. neighborhoods. A 1,000 or more shops may now be operating.

The sticking points for the City Council vote were requirements dispensaries be at least 1,000 feet from houses and apartments and that would limit the number of outlets to 70.

The net result could be a handful of big-box "mega-dispensaries" in industrial parks, according to City Council President Eric Garcetti. Heavily populated areas, such as the Wilshire district, he said, could be left with none.

In October, a California court struck down a city moratorium on the opening of new shops, so Los Angeles has been scrambling to come up with an alternative to controlling the spread of the shops. Some say the ubiquitous shops have led to de facto legalization of pot rather than providing a controlled system to distribute marijuana for medical use.

See the "Where's the Weed?" map from the L.A. Times for a bird's-eye view of the city's pot problem.

Update: The L.A. Weekly wonders what we were smoking in our roundup of coverage on the medical marijuana action. The critique is here.

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