LA pot stores under scrutiny

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Men hold marijuana

The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday voted to reduce the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze reports.

Frank Stoltze: The city of L.A. is home to an estimated 600 pot stores. Oakland, by comparison, has four. City Council President Eric Garcetti says that’s how many of the stores crowd a half-block in Atwater Village.

Eric Garcetti: I think there are a lot of people who supported medical marijuana, want access for patients, but don't want to see their entire neighborhood taken over to the point were there are more dispensaries than Starbucks.

Stoltze: The number of dispensaries exploded largely because of a "hardship exemption" in city law. The council voted to eliminate it, and to review each store’s license. Frank Sheftel operates a pot store in Toluca Lake.

Frank Sheftel: My concern is they're going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They need to look at these on an individual basis and that's how they need to review them.

Stoltze: The council’s promised to do just that – to weed out unscrupulous operators who may be selling pot illegally or near schools. It also voted to extend a temporary ban on all new stores for another six months.

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