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L.A. City Council committee rejects applications for 18 marijuana dispensaries

August 7, 2009 |  9:15 am

A City Council committee has recommended denying 18 applications for exemptions from the city’s moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries.

Twenty other requests were withdrawn, a reflection of the reality that the Council is unlikely to approve many, if any.

So far, the Council has granted no exceptions from the 2007 moratorium, which allowed 186 existing dispensaries to continue operating. Since then, however, hundreds opened without permission as medical marijuana advocates realized the ban was not being enforced.

The Council has voted to shut down 42 dispensaries. There are 779 applications for exemptions. (The city clerk originally put the number at 883, but some applications were incomplete.) Medical marijuana operators and advocates decried the efforts to shut them down.

Craig Rubin, whose application was denied, denounced the process as capricious and a waste of time, noting that the Council was closing businesses that provide jobs in the middle of an economic downturn. Ed Reyes, the councilman spearheading the effort to regain control over the number of dispensaries, said: “What’s disconcerting is that they made the choice to take this risk, and they did it knowing it was illegal. For us to be the bad guys for their decision is hard to understand.”

 -- John Hoeffel