Wake-Up Call: Los Angeles puts a lid on medical marijuana dispensaries

"We don't want to become another Los Angeles," Denver city councilman Charlie Brown said after touring that city's pot dispensaries, which outnumbered L.A.'s Starbucks outlets, in urging his fellow councilmembers to come up with some regulations for Denver's booming medical marijuana industry.

Mission accomplished. Although L.A.'s city council had been unable to come up with any pot plan in over two years of whining and hand-wringing, less than two months after Brown first presented his proposal at a committee meeting, last week Denver City Council passed an ordinance regulating dispensaries.

That ordinance didn't please anyone -- including all the councilmembers who voted for it and kept reminding each other and the audience that it can be changed. But it will continue to allow a healthy number of dispensaries to operate in Denver, grandfathering in those that had already gotten their sales tax license by December 15, 2009.

No, Denver isn't Los Angeles. Yesterday, the L.A.'s city council finally gave preliminary approval to a plan that would close hundreds of dispensaries in that city, putting a lid on the business at seventy outlets. And the only dispensaries grandfathered in are those that were operating back in 2007.

Which means that L.A. will no longer have more dispensaries than Starbucks outlets. (It might, however, have more lawsuits over closed dispensaries.)

That honor now goes to Denver.

Which means that, yes, Denver now has more dispensaries than Starbucks outlets.

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