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First Batch of Marijuana Hardship Exemptions Headed to Council on Tuesday

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, June 08, 2009, at 03:28PM

City Council will begin the process of reigning in the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries on Tuesday when it considers the first dozen of roughly 500 applications that have been filed since a 2007 ordinance forbidding new facilities.

One of those dispensaries whose Hardship Exemption will be considered Tuesday is The Vapor Room, which claims to be in the Arts District.

City ordinance 179027, which went into effect in the fall of 2007, prohibits new marijuana dispensaries from opening in the city of Los Angeles. It was intended to allow the city time to craft rules to govern the facilities, which multiplied after the 1996 passage of SB 215 (The Compassionate Use Act).

Included in the ordinance was a hardship exemption, which allows the City Council to "grant an exemption from the provisions of this ordinance in cases of hardship duly established to the satisfaction of the City Council." That language could also be struck from the ordinance by Council on Tuesday.

The Vapor Room filed its hardship application on -- appropriately enough -- April 20, 2008. The application listed the facility's owner as Dylan Williams. When blogdowntown tried to contact Williams this afternoon at the number listed on the application, a message said that it was disconnected.

The application said that the facility was already in use as a dispensary, and that the "applicant just became aware of [the] need for registration with [the] city."

Williams also blamed city and federal rules for the lack of an earlier application.

Applicant claims that city failed to properly post and notify him of requirement. Applicant also hesitated filing due to fear of DEA use of registration information.

If the city declines the hardship exemption applications, it can then initiate enforcement proceedings against the use.

Update (6:10pm): The first version of this story listed The Vapor Room's address at 305 S. Hewitt, the address listed on the application. In the comments, Bedlam's Jonathan Jerald states that the address is not correct, and that there has not been a dispensary operating at that location.

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