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LA City Council Approves Pot Ordinance to End Green Rush

The L.A. City Council has given a nod to a medical marijuana ordinance, with its final approval to end the so-called "Green Rush" that swept through Los Angeles and much of the state.

The new pot ordinance will close hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries that cropped up during the past five years, the Associated Press reports. The ordinance caps the number of medical marijuana clinics in the city at 70.

As previously discussed, it also requires dispensaries to be located in a 1,000 feet buffer zone  from schools, parks and other public gathering spots. The new guidelines will push medical marijuana dispensaries out of neighborhoods and into harbor and industrial areas such as Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles.

In order for the ordinance to take effect, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa must approve it. Next, it will be at least 45 days before city officials can enforce the new rules.

The Los Angeles medical marijuana ordinance, which emerged after 2 1/2 years of debate, will be one of the toughest in the state.

But figuring out how to enforce the new ordinance will be a challenge for the cash-strapped city. Also, getting the owners to comply with the ordinance will likely be met with resistance.

One of the few ways for dispensaries to get around the rules is to seek an injunction to stop the city from enforcing its ordinance.

The 9-3 vote ends the long debate over the city's fast-spreading pot outlets. Since 2005, the number of pot shops in Los Angeles has grown from a mere four to roughly 1,000.

As previously discussed, the proliferation of clinics exploded in 2009 -- more than 600 over the past 10 months alone -- despite a 2007 city moratorium prohibiting new medical marijuana dispensaries.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley has said he will target pot clinics that profit and sell to people who don't qualify for medical marijuana.

Since the recent federal decision not to prosecute legal users or providers of medical marijuana, states are now solely responsible to regulate its medical marijuana laws.