Tuesday, with a 9-3 vote, the Los Angeles city council approved the controversial ordinance that will end up closing hundreds of medical marijuana clinics in the city.
137 shops that registered before a 2007 moratorium could be allowed to keep operating if they adhere to the new guidelines, however the ordinance set’s the cap at 70.
Dispensary owners will have to relocate their shops to industrial areas, including Yamileth Bolanos, who runs Pure Life Alternative Wellness Center.
“The city needs to decide if we are drug-slingers or if we are medical marijuana providers. This ordinance says we are drug-slingers”, says Bolanos.
Los Angeles saw an mass influx of medical marijuana clinics during the past several years as the council sat on their haunches, allowing dispensaries to access a loophole.. thus, making it possible for marijuana shops to open while awaiting ‘official” approval.
Only four dispensaries were open in 2005, when discussions first began. Now there are as many as 1,000.
David Berger, a special assistant to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, says, “They’ve had it easy since 2005, and that is now coming to an end.”
According to Berger, it will be at least 45 days before city officials can enforce the new rules, as a letter will be sent to dispensary owners and landlords asking for immediate closure.
Dispensaries will be spread evenly throughout the city with a community districting plan and must be 1,000 feet from “sensitive uses” such as schools, parks and other gathering sites.
California is among 14 states that permit medical marijuana. Pot, however, remains illegal under federal law.