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Council votes for marijuana-outlet restriction

January 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
In a key vote, the Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from being across the street or next door to residences. The marijuana outlet issue could be resolved in as soon as a week.After years of debate the city council is finally close to regulating the largely unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.

The council wants the L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to draw up two ordinances by next week.

One would set up a 5000-foot buffer between marijuana dispensaries and so-called sensitive areas like schools and residential areas. The other would establish a 1,000-foot buffer. No dispensary would be allowed adjacent to or across the street from a residential area.

"We can have safe communities and safe access that, you know, we don't have to fall into stereotypes of 'reefer madness,' and on the other side of the spectrum we don't have to have the 'Wild Wild West,'" said Eric Garcetti, president of the Los Angeles City Council.

The council had done 90 percent of the work before Wednesday.

The council-session audience Wednesday was once again filled with medical marijuana users and owners of collectives. They're concerned that if the rules are too restrictive they'll be out of business.

"How is a liquor store that provides liquor and cigarettes to minors and how is a topless nude bar better than us? Please tell me that. We're trying to serve our community," said Yami Bolanos, president of L.A. Collective Alliance.

"Please allow me to live and not have to go to the hospital," said medical marijuana patient Heather Boswell.

There now are 137 permitted collectives out of some 1,000 dispensaries operating in L.A.

The new ordinances would force many out of business and force many of the permitted collectives to move.

"Essentially allows us to protect at least 80 to 90 percent of the city in relation to where these facilities can be located," said L.A. City Councilman Ed Reyes.

Next Tuesday the plan is to have two final ordinances before the city council for a vote.