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City Council May Bypass Voters To Limit Medical Pot Shops

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council will vote later this month on an initiative that would drastically reduce the number of medical marijuana dispensaries citywide.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports supporters hope lawmakers will approve the new law later this month and skip the election to keep at least 100 dispensaries open.

City officials have determined the “Medical Marijuana Collectives Initiative Ordinance” (PDF) has gathered the necessary signatures to move forward to the City Council, which can opt to enact the measure itself or place the ordinance before voters.

The initiative would reduce the number of operating medical marijuana dispensaries in the city while allowing those which began operating before Sept. 2007 – when the city first attempted to enact a moratorium on new shops – to remain open.

In addition to closing hundreds of stores, the ordinance would also place restrictions on dispensaries, including business hours and location.

Rick Icaza, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, one of the groups sponsoring the initiative, said the time has come for improved regulation of the industry.

“We’re gonna work with government to make sure that they’re certified, that they’re legitimate, not operating out of a garage as some of the instances are,” Icaza said.

The city has attempted to regulate dispensaries for several years, culminating in an effort last July to ban storefront dispensaries altogether – an effort that was overturned in October after medical marijuana supporters gathered enough signatures to repeal the ban.

Councilman Jose Huizar said any effort at regulation must begin by clarifying exactly what the law says.

“We have a terrible state law that makes no sense, and that’s why cities continue to have litigation, cities continue to fumble,” Huizar said.

The City Council is expected to make a decision on the ordinance later this month.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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