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LA repeals ban on storefront medical marijuana dispensaries

October 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles City Council reversed course and repealed a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries that it passed just two months ago. The repeal means nearly 1,000 pot shops can remain open, but they're still under federal scrutiny.

The council voted 11-2 to negate a July ordinance banning all storefront medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. The city called it a "gentle ban" because it still allowed patients and caregivers to grow their own cannabis.

But Tuesday's move comes after medical marijuana supporters gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

"This word, 'gentle ban,' is a bad word. It's not gentle. It stops me from being able to get my medicinal use," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a cancer patient who says he uses medicinal marijuana.

Rosendahl says the city council will now push for the state legislature to come up with legislation that clearly regulates how medical marijuana will be grown and used.

City Hall doesn't have an exact count, but there are an estimated 1,000 pot dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles. According to Councilman Mitchell Englander, most attract crime and sell pot for profit, not as a cooperative.

"What we need is a clean slate. I don't think it was ever anybody's intent for things to get out of control to the point that they have," Englander said. "There's been a proliferation of these bad operators, and we need to clean this up."

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided three pot dispensaries in the city and sent notices out to 70 others, ordering them to shut down.

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