LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles City Council reversed course Tuesday and repealed a ban on pot shops that it passed just two months ago to shutter hundreds of medical marijuana storefronts.
Council members voted 11-2 to negate its July decision to rid the nation's second-largest city of pot dispensaries. The repeal came after opponents gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot seeking to undo the ban.
Many cities have struggled with medical marijuana ordinances, but none has had a bigger problem than Los Angeles, where pot shops have proliferated.
Though dispensary owners can now remain open without fear of local authorities, they still run the risk of getting shut down by federal authorities who last week started targeting stores in Los Angeles they said were raking in huge sums of money and attracting crime. Pot remains illegal under federal law.
"What weighs heavy in my mind is that no matter what we do, the federal government will still come in and shut them down," said Councilman Ed Reyes, who voted for the ban in July. "It's a very confusing time for everyone. Those who chose to continue to open up for the right reasons are at risk and those who are doing it out of gamesmanship, out of opportunism, out of profit at the cost of our lives and the public safety in our communities will also be at risk."
The city's so-called "gentle ban" would have eliminated storefront pot shops but allowed patients and caregivers to grow medical marijuana. City officials have said more than 750 collectives have registered with the city and as many as 200 more could exist.
More than 175 California cities and 20 counties have banned retail pot shops, according to the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.
In supporting the repeal, some council members said they needed better guidance from California legislators and urged them to address the inadequacies of a state law that allows the medicinal use of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
"We need to get clarity on exactly where we stand," said Councilman Mitchell Englander.
The state Supreme Court is expected to address whether local governments can ban medical marijuana clinics, but a hearing hasn't been set by the high court.
Los Angeles passed an ordinance two years ago that was supposed to shutter hundreds of pot dispensaries while capping the number in operation at 70.
But a set of legal challenges against the city by dispensaries and the recent expiration of the ordinance due to a sundowner clause led to another surge of pot shops.
Federal authorities have targeted about 375 pot stores and growing operations in the Central District of California, which stretches from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino counties.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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