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Take a Deep Breath: City Council Begins to Tackle Sticky Issue of Pot Dispensaries

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Photo by Neeta Lind via Flickr
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The hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries that cropped up all over town in the past few years are now facing uncertain futures, as City officials mull the next step in the process to close them down, reports the LA Times. They are working on a short list of pot shops "targeted for extinction by a City Council chagrined that it allowed hundreds to open in Los Angeles despite a 21-month-old moratorium."The first step is an inspection, and "City officials plan to decide this week on the next enforcement step." But the first step leads the City Council and the legal teams of the dispensaries on a potentially sticky path that could take a long time to navigate:

The task is herculean, requiring hearings that could easily tie up the planning committee for hundreds of hours. The hearings have been rocky, as council members have struggled with complicated issues and dispensary operators have complained that they were being railroaded. And, if dispensaries refuse to buckle, the city could face costly court battles.

Despite a 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries, many opened under a "hardship" clause--a loophole in essence--that was recently closed by the Council earlier this month and went into effect last week. Within that few week window, a few hundred more sent in applications. Things get under way today as the City Council takes up consideration of 29 hardship applications.