Los Angeles Tuesday gave final approval to an ordinance cutting down the number of medical marijuana dispensaries, which have grown to almost 1,000 since sale of the drug for medicinal use was approved in 1996.
By a 9-3 vote, the Los Angeles City Council said 187 dispensaries would remain open for now, but it intends to reduce the number to no more than 70 over time.
Business owners and people taking marijuana by prescription vowed to take legal action against the ordinance, including the possibility of raising the issue in a referendum.
The ordinance, which also includes a series of new restrictions on the sale of marijuana, will take effect after being signed by the mayor.
It will close down hundreds of dispensaries in the city, where between 800 and 1,000 shops have sprung up since 1996, thanks to legal loopholes in the sale and distribution of marijuana.
The new rules require that marijuana dispensaries be at least 1,000 feet (300 meters) from schools, public parks and libraries, and must close by 8:00 pm.
California law stipulates physicians must have no relation with dispensaries and can only prescribe marijuana as a therapy, allowing patients to apply for a license to purchase and sell the drug.
The ordinance comes one year after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a debate on the possibility of taxing marijuana to help recession-hit state finances.