Los Angeles City Council Votes to Ban Marijuana Shops

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries that have cropped up across the city.

The council in the nation’s second-largest city acted after some residents said the pot shops have been a blight on neighborhoods. City officials estimate there could be more than 900 collectives open currently.

Many cities have struggled with medical marijuana ordinances but none has had a bigger problem than Los Angeles, where pot shops have proliferated. At one point, the city ordered closure of the shops – a process that failed amid lawsuits and conflicting rulings by appellate courts.

The so-called “gentle ban” eliminates storefronts but allows patients and caregivers to grow medical marijuana.

The city has fumbled with its medical marijuana laws for years, trying to provide safe and affordable access to the drug for legitimate patients while addressing worries by neighborhood groups that streets were being overrun by dispensaries and pot users.

Medical marijuana advocates and residents squared off again in front of the council on Tuesday, with some civic leaders saying efforts made during the past few years haven’t done any good.

“We need to start with a clean slate,” said Councilman Mitchell Englander. “Los Angeles has experimented with marijuana and has failed.”

The ban comes during a confusing time for Californians despite voter approval in 1996 for medicinal use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The state Supreme Court has decided to clarify marijuana’s hazy legal status by addressing whether local governments can ban medical marijuana clinics. But a hearing has yet to be set by the high court.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities have cracked down on pot clinics around the state, saying such operations remain illegal under federal law.

– Read the entire article at The Huffington Post.