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City Council Approves Medical Marijuana Ordinance, Controversy Still Continues

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A dispensary in the San Fernando Valley | Photo by mares8 via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

A dispensary in the San Fernando Valley | Photo by mares8 via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
In a 9-3 vote, the Los Angeles City Council this morning approved the long-fought-over medical marijuana ordinance, despite protests from members of the public on both sides. During public comment, advocates for medical marijuana threatened to bring lawsuits while advocates for limiting the facilities questioned how the city would afford enforcement.

Concerned about the reality of enforcement, Lisa Sarkin of the Studio City Neighborhood Council stood up and said there were 13 dispensaries in Studio City, a community of 28,000 people in a 3- by 1.5 mile area.

Dan Lutz, an advocate for medical marijuana was disappointed. "We are prepared to go forward and stop this ordinance," he said. "We will go the people, We will stop it. We will also go the courts if we have to."

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The ordinance, which will take effect once an application and registration fee ordinance is passed, will shut down hundreds of facilities that opened during a moratorium first set in 2007. Officially, it caps the number of dispensaries to 70, but places legally established before the moratorium--upping the number around 150--are allowed to stay.

"In enforcing this new ordinance, my Office will continue to stand alongside and work with all members of the community, including patients and their caregivers, neighborhood groups, the Council and law enforcement, and fulfill our obligation to provide safe and reliable medical marijuana, while at the same time, protecting our residents from unlawful operators, traffickers and contaminated sources," said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. "Hopefully, our efforts will be effective in making life healthier and otherwise better for patients and all residents.”

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