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LA cracking down on pot dispensaries under new law

Created: 10/13/2013 11:05 PM KSTP.com

(AP) LOS ANGELES - Dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles have closed, and the city attorney says more will be shutting their doors soon, following a voter-approved crackdown.

Thirty-eight pot shops that do not comply with a municipal ballot measure approved earlier this year are in the process of being shuttered, City Attorney Mike Feuer said. Another 42 shops have decided on their own to close since July, when the new law took effect, he said.

Feuer promised Friday more prosecutions will come.

"We’re going to see a major difference in the way that operators and property owners perceive the city," he told the Los Angeles Times ( http://lat.ms/17w3vyp).

The city had struggled for more than five years with how to regulate the budding medical marijuana industry. Voters in May overwhelmingly passed Measure D, which reduced the number of shops sharply, and taxed those that were operating legally under state and local laws.

There were nearly 1,000 nonprofit dispensaries in the city a few years ago. The measure allows only the 134 that opened before a moratorium was attempted in 2007.

Shops that meet the voter-approved criteria must move if they’re located within 600 feet of a park, a school or a child-care facility.

To date, no pot shop operators or landlords _ who also can be prosecuted under the law _ have been jailed or fined, Feuer said.

City councilors passed an ordinance in 2010 to cut the number of shops to 70, but dispensaries filed lawsuits and the ordinance expired in 2012. The city then approved a ban, but repealed it two months later after enough signatures were gathered to put Measure D and two competing proposals on the ballot.

Dispensaries have filed lawsuits in federal court challenging parts of Measure D, according to an attorney representing several shops, but the city has yet to be served with papers.

"We want those dispensaries to be recognized as meeting the requirements of Measure D," attorney David Welch said.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and U.S. attorneys have raided clinics, prosecuted owners and filed lawsuits against landlords.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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