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Los Angeles cuts back on medical marijuana dispensaries

On Monday the city enacted an ordinance that shut down some 400 medical marijuana dispensaries, but the debate over their existence is far from over.

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A sign taped to the front door of House of Kush, a medicial marijuana shop, indicates the dispensary is closed on Monday, in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles.

Adam Lau/AP

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As a Los Angeles ordinance takes effect Monday, shuttering more than 400 medical marijuana dispensaries, proprietors are complying, but not without a promise to return.

From 2007 to 2009, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries grew from 183 to over 800. The new law caps their number at 70, and spreads them equally among all areas of the city.

Officials felt that too many had proliferated in the Venice Beach area and Hollywood. Moreover, some were close to schools, churches, or parks had brought complaints from neighbors for attracting gang and criminal elements.

“I just don’t think they should be here and I hope they’re gone soon,” says Monica Robek, mother of three, who feels that marijuana dispensaries, even for medical purposes, send the wrong message to her kids.

Under the new law, any dispensary that has been at its current location since before Sept. 14, 2007 may be eligible to register and operate if it complies with state laws and meets new population percentage requirements. And if the number of dispensaries ever falls below 70, a drawing will be held to fill the vacancy, provided its owner has no record of a felony in the past decade and is not on parole for sale of a controlled substance.

Marijuana reform activists say the law likely isn't the end of the line for L.A.'s medical marijuana dispensaries.

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