Pot dispensary owners fight closure

LOS ANGELES A court hearing was held Thursday, where opponents of the newly implemented city ordinance said it was being interpreted to shut down as many pot clinics as possible. Of the 169 registered dispensaries, 80 percent of them are now being sued by the city because they do not meet the strict new regulations.

"I thought I was following the letter and spirit of the law," protested Sam Humeid, who owns Perennial Dispensary, one of 135 the city is trying to shut down.

"We have a change of ownership and I have a location that is compliant with their new ordinance, but they are still not happy with it for who knows what. There is paperwork fiascos everywhere in this ordinance," said Humeid.

The ordinance took effect in June. Only dispensaries that had been on the city's books since November 13, 2007 were allowed to remain open. They were also required to have the same ownership and management, a matter that has become a point of contention among many.

"The city abused their discretion," said David Welch, an attorney representing the dispensaries. "They didn't take the time to actually go through each file. There are many people that should not be here because they have relevant reasons why they submitted the information that they did. Or in some cases the city misread their application."

The city attorney's office said it must strictly interpret the ordinance, which they claim very clearly states that there must be no change in ownership or management.

"They didn't meet the words of the ordinance, but I do believe we will be able to work with many of them and with the court to find a hospitable and amicable resolution," said Jane Usher, an assistant city attorney. "Not everybody is going to be happy at the end of the day, but we will follow the law."

The dispensaries can stay open until each case is reviewed by a judge.

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