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Over 400 Los Angeles pot shops ordered to close Monday

A pedestrian walks past a marijuana leaf neon sign advertising a medical marijuana provider along a street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Calif. on Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010. Tuesday the LA City Council approved an ordinance that will close hundreds of clinics while those that remain said they would be banished to industrial areas forcing their clients to travel longer distances.
A pedestrian walks past a marijuana leaf neon sign advertising a medical marijuana provider along a street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Calif. on Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010. Tuesday the LA City Council approved an ordinance that will close hundreds of clinics while those that remain said they would be banished to industrial areas forcing their clients to travel longer distances.
AP Photo

A new city ordinance threatens to shutter more than 400 marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles Monday, but as many as 186 pot dealers can remain open.

Dispensaries that were open before the moratorium ordinance was adopted -- on Nov. 13, 2007 -- are grandfathered in and will be able to remain open.

There were 186 pot stores within Los Angeles city limits at that date, but city officials believe about 50 have closed up shop.

Under California law approved by voters, collectives and nonprofit groups are eligible to sell small amounts of cannibis sativa to persons with notes from medical doctors. The pot sales may not be conducted for profit, but nonprofit agencies in California are allowed to pay salaries and costs.

Last Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant rejected a request for a restraining order preventing the ordinance from taking effect. The judge noted that the city's ordinance would not prevent patients from obtaining medical marijuana.

The City Attorney's Office sent letters last month to the operators of the 400 or so more-recently opened dispensaries in Los Angeles, ordering them to close by Monday.

The grandfathered dispensaries are now required to file a notice of intent to register with the City Clerk's Office, and will be put on a priority list. City staff will then inspect them to ensure they are at least 1,000 feet away from schools, public parks, public libraries and religious institutions, or another pot dispensary.

If two dispensaries are within 1,000 feet of each other, the City Clerk's Office will use the priority list to determine which one can stay.

The ordinance bars dispensaries from being "on a lot abutting, across the street or alley from, or having a common corner with a residentially zoned lot or a lot improved with residential use.''

There were 186 dispensaries that opened prior to the moratorium, and about 130 are believed to still be operating, city officials said.