Saying the proliferation of pot shops had gotten out of control, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to shut down all 762 registered medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. In the first 13-1 vote, Councilmember Paul Koretz dissented but then relented and voted with the full council. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has 10 days to decide to sign the ban into law.
The council made it clear that marijuana itself won't become illegal - but if the ban becomes law, medical marijuana dispensaries face legal action if they don't comply. The council said patients and their caregivers could grow and share what many perceive as medication in groups of three. One dispensary owner said that would cost roughly $5,000 each. An opponent of the ban told the council: "No one who is a patient who is terminally ill can afford to grow, or has the physical capability to grow, medial marijuana."
KTLA interviewed a man who weighs 84 pounds and says he needs medical marijuana to get the munchies and to calm his nausea. Supporters of medical marijuana offered an alternative plan that would close all dispensaries except about 100-170 opened before September 2007, which would continue to operate under strict regulations. The council ordered staff to draw up an ordinance to that effect.
Though LAPD Chief Charlie Beck testified that the pot dispensaries attract crime, Think Progress reports on a UCLA study that says there is no actual correlation between pot shops and crime rates. Since it is allowing shared personal use among three people, the city council is complying just enough with state law under Prop 215. But in a terrible twist, prohibitive costs and lack of access to safely grown marijuana could now drive patients to seek pot on the black market - and that may create a real correlation with crime, something voters approved Prop 215 to avoid in the first place.
Video after the break.