Crime & Justice

Loophole allows medical pot dispensaries to spring up like weeds

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The Los Angeles City Council is trying to close a loophole in the law that limits new medical marijuana dispensaries. More on the story from KPCC’s Shirley Jahad.

Shirley Jahad: Hundreds of medial marijuana dispensaries have opened in the city of Los Angeles in the year and a half since the LA City Council issued a moratorium on new pot shops.

The Council voted to prohibit any new dispensaries while it crafted an ordinance to regulate their expansion. That ordinance still isn’t ready. That hasn’t kept marijuana shops from springing up like weeds.

Jose Huizar: We’ve had about 500 dispensaries come up.

Jahad: LA city councilman Jose Huizar represents Eagle Rock, El Sereno and Boyle Heights. He said many of the new shops are opening because language in the ordinance allows what’s called a hardship exemption. Huizar said a lot of operators seek to cash in until the new law is in place.

Huizar: “It’s really unfortunate that you have some culprits taking advantage and exploiting this loophole to make a dollar to the detriment possibly of the legitimate dispensaries there to provide marijuana to those who medically need it.”

Jahad: Although federal law makes marijuana use illegal, California law allows it for medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription. The full council is expected to close the dispensary loophole in a vote next week.