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New map shows where LA would allow marijuana dispensaries

Selling pot will soon be legal in California

The Green Doctor shops in Venice Beach.

The city planning department is taking its first stab at dictating where marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to open when it becomes legal in January to sell recreational pot in California.

As the map below shows, the dispensaries would be allowed in areas that are already zoned for retail and industrial uses, but they would not be allowed within an 800-foot radius of a school, public park, library, and drug treatment or rehab center. An 800-foot buffer would also keep multiple dispensaries from being located next to each other.

The map only shows “areas eligible for retailers,” says deputy planning director Kevin Keller. Retailers would not be allowed to sell “paraphernalia,” like pipes and bongs, and customers would not be allowed to consume pot on site, Keller says. So they’re not like bars.

The map is a visual aid for a draft ordinance released by the planning department on Thursday. It does not address bakeries, testing labs, and factories or warehouses for growing, processing, and storing marijuana plants, nor does it get into the nitty gritty of potential operational restrictions, like requirements that the businesses limit hours or hire security guards.

Marijuana dispensaries would be allowed in areas shaded both pink and blue. (The blue areas are industrial zones, but retailers would be allowed there, too). Pot shops would not be allowed in the gray areas, which represent the 800-foot buffers.
Courtesy of the city planning department

There are plenty of shops already operating, but it’s kind of a mess, with dispensaries getting raided or shut down regularly. Right now, there are 191 dispensaries operating citywide under Proposition D, a voter initiative that gave a limited number of shops immunity from enforcement and prosecution. (There are hundreds more that are operating illegally, according to the city controller). Those dispensaries sell to customers who have a doctor’s recommendation.

In November, California voters passed Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana—no doctors note required. But non-medical retailers aren’t allowed to open shop until the state creates a licensing system, and that’s expected to happen in January.

In March, Angelenos passed Measure M, which overturned Proposition D, an initiative that “didn’t actually license those shops [that were granted immunity] or give the city power to regulate other cannabis businesses.” Measure M gives the city the authority to regulate—and tax—the sale of marijuana.

Under the planning department’s proposed rules, Proposition D shops that fall outside of the new zones would very likely have to relocate. If there are two already in the zone but within 800 feet of each other, the city’s Cannabis Licensing Commission would have to decide which one gets priority.

“These are some additional questions that we won’t be taking the lead on answering. How [applications] are prioritized, that’s a big question,” Keller says. That’s something the City Council is going to have to work out, he says.

Here are a couple of detailed screengrabs of the map: