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LA Pot Shops Go Up in Smoke: City Council Votes 14-0 for Ban

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Los Angeles medical marijuana patients: you might want to take advantage of using your local marijuana dispensary while you still can. The days of unfettered expansion and operation of dispensaries within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles may quickly be coming to a close.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously yesterday to place a ban on marijuana shops in the city, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Letters ordering all 762 registered dispensaries to close are being sent immediately.

The specifics of the ban are a bit, well, hazy. Medical marijuana patients still have avenues for care, just not through dispensaries -- they can grow and share pot in groups no larger than three people. Activists, of course, point out that the average patient has neither the time nor the money to cultivate the drug at home.

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Making the picture even more unclear, the City Council voted to develop a law that would include a long talked-about statute -- allowing the 170 or so "original" dispensaries to remain open. The Council appears to be most interested in shuttering dispensaries that allegedly act as hubs for crime and make surrounding neighborhoods uneasy. However, some research shows that shutting down dispensaries may actually aid crime. (Eds note: yup, that study got retracted until further notice.)

While the Council's vote is certainly not good news for marijuana advocates, even the ban's staunchest advocates recognize that the city will have a hard time closing down all of LA's pot shops. To be sure, activists aren't going down without a fight. As the Times notes: "Medical marijuana activists... jeered when the vote came out. More than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department officers were called in to quell them."