Early approval for cap on pot dispensaries

LOS ANGELES Tuesday evening, the /*Los Angeles City Council*/ was on the verge of an ordinance that would control medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. In the last count there were between 800 and 1,000 dispensaries in Los Angeles.

Controlling the number of dispensaries was a priority in council Tuesday and it took over three hours of debate. Some council members wanted to adopt an ordinance to "grandfather in" the dispensaries that have been around the longest and are complying with the law. The estimated number is now 165 dispensaries out of the original 186.

"I do support that we should restrict our consideration for the time being to only those 186," said Councilman Richard Alarcon.

"Whatever rule was in place or not in place, they followed it. That's what I think is important to recognize," said Councilman Dennis Zine. "That whatever we had established, whether we agreed or not, they participated in that process."

There was one motion to cap the number of legal dispensaries at 70 in Los Angeles.

"The 70 figure, I think, is actually kind of frightening because right now we probably have over a thousand dispensaries," said Councilman Paul Koretz. "The demand doesn't change to drop it to seven percent of what we have no I think is just go into create an instant nuisance."

What the council finally approved was a motion that combines the cap and grandfathers in the existing legal dispensaries. If the number of marijuana dispensaries falls below 70, they can only rise to 70.

"I think it's real important that we do the right thing," said Councilman Tom LaBonge. "I think it's real important that whoever is established or challenged in the needs of medical needs are met in the right and appropriate way."

The council has already tried to get around the language banning the sale of marijuana in the state. It's allowing contribution or donation to the dispensaries, not sales. Advocates want some clarification.

"I mean, we're not talking about for-profit sales. We understand that you can't have for-profit sales. Call it a contribution. Call it a sale. But make clear that it's legal either way," said Joe Elford, attorney for /*Americans For Safe Access*/.

Whatever is finally approved still has to go to /*L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich*/ and then come back to the city council in written form. They're hoping to have that back here sometime tomorrow.

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