|Photo: Los Angeles Times|
|It’s the beginning of the end for hundreds of Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries.|
Hundreds of Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries are being told they must shut down to comply with a recently passed city law.
More than 500 letters are expected to be mailed Tuesday to pot shops across the city, where hundreds of dispensaries opened in recent years as city officials struggled to approve a local regulatory ordinance, reports the Associated Press.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the ordinance on Friday that sets fees for dispensaries to remain open if they meet the new, stricter guidelines. About 187 dispensaries — all shops that opened before the council imposed a moratorium — have six months to comply.
|Graphic: L.A. Weekly|
When any of those 187 shops closes, it won’t be replaced until the number of dispensaries is reduced to 70, according to the city council.
The rest of the city’s dispensaries opened under a boilerplate hardship exemption included in the original moratorium’s language.
Strict new rules will go into effect on where dispensaries can operate. The pot shops won’t be allowed to locate within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, libraries, churches, and other so-called “sensitive uses.”
Even more problematic, according to marijuana advocates, is a provision prohibiting dispensaries from locating next to or across the street from residential property. That provision excludes almost all of the city’s commercial zones.
“The buffer zones and other location restrictions are so onerous and complicated that they throw into question whether dispensaries will be able to comply with the ordinance, and whether the city will be able to successfully implement the new law,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
Dispensaries will be required to pay almost $1,600 in fees in order to operate legally. Included is $688 for building and safety permits, and $151 for a police background check.
City officials say the rest of the dispensaries will have until June 7 to discontinue operations.
Twenty-one dispensaries have joined forces to sue the city, attempting to block enforcement of the new law.