The Los Angeles City Council voted today to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city (described by one councilmember as the "the capital of medical marijuana") to a total of 70 storefront locations. With an estimated 900 dispensaries currently operating within city limits, there are currently more medical marijuana outlets in L.A. than Starbucks. That is a sobering figure. How on earth did we end up with this many Starbucks?

Do we really want our children walking around irritable and talking too fast, with the sunken eyes of first-year medical students? True, there are some genuinely sleepy people who may need the stuff; most java users, however, are making a mockery of the Compassionate Coffee Act.

To the annoyance of everyone around them, "grounds hounds" can easily be identified, jabbering excitedly about their experiences in writing television comedy, blogging or other weird pursuits. You definitely do not want to see any of these folks behind the wheel.

And coffee houses do not affect only people; they also malign surrounding businesses. The pernicious coffee house effect can be detected even at the most innocent dispensaries. Neighborhood storefronts that formerly spent little on tenant improvements are festooned with images of hemp leaves, unnervingly similar to the images of roasting coffee beans found on the walls of semi-legal coffee bars. And there, displayed in the glass case, like so much candy, are canisters of dark, oily beans, with names like "Arabica," "Columbia" and "Guatemala" as if they were run-of-the-mill brands like Chem Dawg, Mango Trainwreck and Hindu Kush Old Gangsta. To old-timers who remember traveling as far as Seattle to get "a cup," these exotic inventories must look like dreams come true.

I guess the next thing we can expect is to see the beloved Cheech & Chong routines slowly supplanted by the menacing image of Juan Valdez, the serape-draped coffee grower from Colombia. Even ordinary language is being corrupted by the global Kaffeklatch. A word to the wise: "Fair trade" does not mean what it sounds like. (Hint: It has nothing to do with sex.) So much for innocence….

– Morris Newman