L.A.'s medical pot dispensary moratorium led to a boom instead

Four years ago, when the Los Angeles City Council started to wrestle with how to control medical marijuana, there were just four known storefront dispensaries, one each in Hancock Park, Van Nuys, Rancho Park and Cheviot Hills.
Now, police say there are as many as 600. There may be more. No one really knows.
That exponential rise came despite a moratorium passed in 2007 that was supposed to prohibit new dispensaries from opening. An exception was made for 186 that were already in business and registered with the city.
In December, Stewart Richlin, a lawyer who said he represents more than 100 collectives, came up with a new rationale for a hardship exemption that he filed for a downtown dispensary.
He wrote that the collective had been forced to operate without city approval because the moratorium "required that managing members of the collective literally confess a federal crime in order to register." He argued that the federal government's raids had created "a pattern of terror and fear." Then he noted that a recent court decision and the state's attorney general's guidelines on how to distribute medical marijuana legally promised a "new era."
"...we aren't in need of paternalistic government," he said.
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