Los Angeles City Council Enacts Medical Marijuana Oversight Regulations

Los Angeles, CA: Members of the Los Angeles City Council voted 9 to 3 on Tuesday in favor of regulations capping the total number of medical marijuana dispensaries that may legally operate within the county, and restricting where such facilities may be located.

The new ordinance, which won’t take effect until at least 45 days after the mayor’s signature, seeks to limit the number of legally zoned dispensaries to no more than 70 countywide. However, the regulations will allow for additional facilities to maintain operations if they opened prior to the passage of city’s 2007 moratorium prohibiting new dispensaries, and if they comply with the newly enacted guidelines.

Under the new rules, city officials would require dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from certain “sensitive’ public locations, such as schools, parks and other gathering sites – restrictions that would cause many existing outlets to either close their doors or change locations.

According to a 2009 review by the Los Angeles Weekly, approximately 545 medical marijuana outlets are presently operating in L.A. County.

Commenting on the ordinance, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “There is nothing wrong with the nation’s second largest city seeking to enact sensible regulations governing the distribution of medical cannabis. Ideally, however, these regulations ought to acknowledge that a majority of voters support these operations, and that they dispense a product that is objectively safer than commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, this ordinance fails to acknowledge this reality.”

For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer, California NORML Coordinator, at (415) 563-5858 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.