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L.A. holds hearings on pot dispensaries

June 9, 2009 9:04:09 AM PDT
The Los Angeles City Council held the first of several hearings on Tuesday to determine whether medical marijuana dispensaries can continue to operate.The Council voted to eliminate a loophole in an ordinance that has allowed hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries to open and operate in spite of a city ban on new clinics. A six-month temporary ban on new dispensaries was also approved.

Council members unanimously directed the city attorney to eliminate the hardship exemption in a 2007 ordinance which allowed nearly 500 dispensaries to open across the city. The council is expected to vote on the revised ordinance next week.

The City Council had approved a two-year ban in 2007 on medical marijuana dispensaries in order to give leaders time to draft regulations to limit where and how the dispensaries can operate in Los Angeles.

Clinics that were already established were allowed to remain open if they met some requirements, but owners began filing hardship exemptions, which then allowed owners to offer an argument for why they should stay in business without fulfilling the requirements.

There were 477 hardship exemptions filed since the ban took effect.

Hearings are under way for the clinics that applied for a hardship exemption. Council members voted today to deny 14 applications.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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