LA medical pot dispensaries capped at 70, but 137 to stay open

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AP Photo/Eric Risberg

A worker at the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Clinic prepares packets of marijuana buds for sale in San Francisco, Monday, Oct. 19, 2009.

The new medical marijuana rules in Los Angeles will cap the number of pot dispensaries in the city at 70. But 137 will be allowed to do business under the L.A. City Council's revamped regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.

KPCC’s Frank Stoltze followed today's med pot debate at L.A. City Hall – the third long session as the City Council tried to finish work on medical marijuana rules that have been in limbo for two years. Stoltze says there's a reason why the Council will let 137 pot shops stay open.

"That’s the estimated number that are still in existence that originally signed up to be medical marijuana dispensaries a couple of years ago," says Stoltze.

"And as you know there’s an estimated 900 in the city now. So many will have to shut down."

If any of the 137 dispensaries allowed to remain in business eventually close, no new dispensaries will be allowed to take their place until the total number in L.A. falls to 70.

Medical marijuana dispensaries already in business in Los Angeles will be subject to new city regulations. They cannot be located closer than 500 feet to a school or a park, and they have to submit to city audits. The dispensaries have to be operated by non-profit "collectives" that grow and dispense medical marijuana to members.

The City Council also wants the dispensaries to grow their marijuana on site, rather than at off-site pot farms.

The new Los Angeles regulations will allow cash to change hands at dispensaries, but only if it adheres to the guidelines set down by California's medical marijuana law. The law approved by voters in 1996 allows "cash and in-kind contributions, reimbursements and reasonable compensation provided by members towards the collective's actual expenses."

The L.A. City Council is not finished with the medical marijuana regulations, and it's not clear when the final vote will happen.

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