Nobody knows for sure how many medical marijuana dispensaries are in Los Angeles (it's estimated to be somewhere between 500 to 1000), but they definitely outnumber Starbucks. And now federal law enforcement officials are cracking down on the city, giving 71 dispensaries until Tuesday to shut down, threatening criminal charges.
Officials say that California—which legalized medical marijuana in 1996—has never been able to properly regulate the industry, with recreational users taking advantage of the vague state laws that enable the dispensaries and now it's out of control, particularly in L.A. The problem is that dispensaries violate federal law, as all possession and distribution of marijuana is considered to be illegal, and state law that requires operators to be nonprofit primary caregivers to their patients.
The New York Times has a great description of one dispensary:
Inside, house music was being played in a lobby decorated to conjure "Scarface," a poster of which hung on a wall.
Feds have been able to shut down 600 dispensaries statewide in the last year, but they are up against a much larger force in L.A., whose citizens mean to fight for their right to party. After the City Council voted to ban dispensaries, supporters of the dispensaries organized a coalition, raised $250,000, gathered signatures, and got the ban repealed last week.
And they say stoners can't accomplish anything.
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