More Lawsuits Expected, After City Says Only 41 Medical Pot Dispensaries Can Stay Open
August 26, 2010 - 4:47 AMNearly 30 lawsuits already have been filed challenging the procedure the Los Angeles City Council adopted on Jan. 26 to limit the number of pot dispensaries.
The city attorney's office said it expects a slew of lawsuits and will file a countersuit asking a judge to determine that the city's strict process in interpreting the law was appropriate. The city said it won't seek to close any clinics before a court ruling.
"We're trying to be proactive," Jane Usher, a special assistant city attorney, told the Los Angeles Times. Usher said the small number of eligible dispensaries was "a surprise."
Nearly 30 lawsuits have already been filed challenging the procedure the city council adopted Jan. 26 to limit the number of dispensaries. Owners must undergo a background check, their stores must be 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other gathering sites, and their pot must be tested at an independent laboratory.
Most of the dispensaries that have sued are among more than 400 ordered to shut down.
Usher said the city's suit will be filed Thursday before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mohr, who is presiding over all the lawsuits. He has set a Sept. 21 hearing on constitutional issues.
Hundreds of dispensaries appeared across the city when officials failed to enforce a 2007 moratorium on medical pot clinics.
When the city council passed the January ordinance, it estimated that about 130 dispensaries might qualify to stay open. Under that law, if the number of eligible dispensaries dropped below 70, additional clinics would be chosen in a lottery. The total number of dispensaries in the city would then be capped at 70.
City officials said 170 dispensaries applied to be allowed to remain open, but 129 failed to meet the criteria. The city clerk's office mailed letters Wednesday to each dispensary notifying it of its status and also posted the list on the office's website.
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