Less than three months after the Los Angeles City Council imposed a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, the council on Tuesday rescinded the prohibition rather than face a costly and likely losing battle at the ballot box.

The council's 11-2 preliminary vote to end the ban creates confusion over what pot shop rules and regulations are in place. With the vote, council members adopted an appeal to state legislators to come up with clear regulations on how to control the dispensaries, which have prompted complaints in some neighborhoods of drug use, drug dealing and crime.

The dispensary ban reversal returns for final approval next week.

The ban, enacted in July, was supposed to put an end to conflicting and confusing regulations on some 800 pot shops operating in the city. The so-called gentle ban prohibited dispensaries but allowed caregivers to grow marijuana at home.

Shortly after it passed, supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries collected nearly 50,000 signatures seeking a referendum to overturn the ban. City officials on Tuesday said they believed the ban would be easily overturned if it went before voters.

However, even as the city prepares to lift its ban, the status of the dispensaries remains unclear.

Last week, federal authorities cracked down on medical marijuana dispensaries in Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles, suing three collectives and issuing warning letters to 68 others for the sale and distribution of marijuana.

Some Los Angeles Police Department divisions, most notably Devonshire in the north San Fernando Valley, have implemented a de-facto ban on pot shops by shutting down dispensaries that operate on a retail sales basis of cash and carry.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has used medical marijuana to deal with the side effects of recent chemotherapy treatments for cancer, made an emotional plea to allow some dispensaries to remain open.

"What we had, the gentle ban, was an ugly ban," Rosendahl said, his voice raspy and barely above a whisper. "The fact is there are people like me who need to have access to it.

"I'm here today because we have this vote. Where does anyone go, even a councilman, when they need medical marijuana?"

Councilman Paul Koretz agreed with Rosendahl and re-introduced the original city measure allowing about 100 dispensaries to remain open if they agreed to comply with city land use regulations and locate away from schools and residential neighborhoods.

"I think we need to respect the will of the voters who passed Proposition 215 and work to ban the other dispensaries that are in violation of our regulations," Koretz said, adding he expects the same number of clinics to be open today as were on Tuesday.

But Councilman Mitch Englander, who has worked to close some 85 dispensaries he said were operating in his district, said he wants to see law enforcement crack down on all the remaining dispensaries.

"What we did was lift the ban on dispensaries," Englander said. "What that means is there are no regulations in place and all the dispensaries are illegal."

Councilman Jose Huizar, who introduced the original ban on all dispensaries, said he remains concerned about the impact on neighborhoods. Huizar said he recently saw children smoking from a drug pipe on the street.

"That's the kind of problem we're seeing," Huizar said.

Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access, which had supported the referendum against the city ban, said the city now should rely on state law that allowed medical marijuana use.

"It's time for the city to get down to the busy work of developing an ordinance that works for patients and the city," Hermes said. "If a dispensary is complying with state law, there is no reason it can't continue to operate in the city."