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LA city attorney files suit to close all but 41 of city’s marijuana clinics

By Associated Press
Thursday, August 26, 2010 22:24 EDT
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The Los Angeles city attorney filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a judge to support the city’s move to shut down 129 medical marijuana shops under a new ordinance.

The city clerk determined that only 41 pot shops comply with the ordinance, which requires dispensaries to be 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other gathering sites. Owners must also undergo a background check and their marijuana must be tested at an independent lab.

About 30 cases have already been filed challenging the city’s process of evaluating whether clinics are following the rules. Most were among the 400 ordered to shut down in June when the ordinance went into effect.

“They’re going beyond a strict interpretation of the ordinance and doing anything they can to figure out how they can disqualify them,” said James Shaw, who runs a downtown pot clinic and represents the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients. “This is not what the city council intended. The city attorney wants to shut everyone down.”

The city’s countersuit asks a judge to determine that the city’s interpretation of the ordinance was appropriate. The new law passed in January and seeks to regulate the clinics, hundreds of which popped up after officials failed to enforce a 2007 moratorium on medical pot clinics.

The city’s “neighborhoods have been besieged in recent years by an onslaught of marijuana shops purporting to operate as medical marijuana facilities,” the city attorney argued in court documents.

City attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan said his office won’t seek to close any clinics before the court rules.

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