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CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / LOS ANGELES

Sending a clear signal that it wants to close hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries, a City Council committee Monday recommended denying requests from 28 dispensaries for exemptions from a moratorium.

The hearing left dispensary owners and their lawyers furious. They complained that notices arrived over the weekend or not at all, speakers had just minutes to make their case and council members spent no time weighing the testimony.

“I thought the hearings were a farce and a sham,” said Graham Berry, an attorney who spoke for 10 dispensaries.

Councilmen Ed Reyes, the chairman of the Planning Committee, and Jose Huizar sought to defuse several tense moments by explaining the process. They pointed out it was a hearing, not a debate, noted that state law requires only 72 hours’ notice to put items on an agenda and said they had carefully reviewed the hardship exemption applications.

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“What you see here today is the conclusion of a long process,” said Reyes, who had to repeatedly ask speakers to stay within their allotted time. “The assertion that this is a sham is false.”

-- John Hoeffel


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