The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-2 to repeal a recent ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.
This move leaves the city without any law regulating marijuana sales. There are approximately 1,000 pot shops operating within Los Angeles boundaries.
Council members are reportedly stating they’re hoping for a federal crackdown on dispensaries. Several shops have received letters demanding them to close.
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.
Supporters of medical marijuana argue that it has several beneficial effects, among these the relief of nausea symptoms and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients and lowered intraocular eye pressure. Its effectiveness as an analgesic has been suggested—and disputed—as well.
The City Council approved the ban in July as an attempt to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. In response, local activists collected thousands of signatures to “send a referendum repealing it to the ballot.”
"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.
The State Supreme Court will address whether local governments can ban medical marijuana clinics. A hearing date hasn’t been confirmed.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.