Advocates Push Dueling Medical Marijuana Measures In Los Angeles

Los Angeles residents will vote on two dueling proposals that could impact the future of medical marijuana in Los Angeles. Right now, there are 750-1000 dispensaries in Los Angeles that operate with few definite laws after the Los Angeles City Council reversed a ban on the pot shops in October. However, two proposals have qualified for the ballot for the municipal elections in May after gaining thousands of signatures from medical marijuana patients and advocates.

The first measure would force all the city’s marijuana dispensaries to close down except about 100 that were set up before Sept. 2007, when the city imposed a moratorium on new shops. This measure is being referred to as the “Medical Marijuana Collectives Initiative Ordinance,” and would grandfather in about 100 medical marijuana dispensaries set up prior to the 2007 moratorium, and bar all others. It would also add restrictions on hours of operation and location.

The second proposal takes a different approach. The measure would allow all Los Angeles residents to enter the business of selling medical cannabis, but only if they pass a background check and meet strict operating and zoning requirements. The measure, known as the “Regulation of Medical Marijuana for Safe Neighborhoods and Safe Access,” would also hike taxes on medical marijuana sales by 20 percent to cover the cost to the city for regulation.

The second proposal gathered over 73,000 signatures, and is very popular among dispensary owners who opened shops after the 2007 moratorium passed by the Los Angeles City Council (and then reversed). An attorney, David Welch, advocating for Angelenos for Safe Access, has said that the second measure will essentially reduce the number of dispensaries to 100-150 due to the strict operating and zoning requirements, such as not operating within 1000 sq. ft. of a residential building.

Sounds like there will be lots of campaigning over the next few months as both sides advocate for their position and influence Los Angeles residents to vote for their measure in the May municipal elections. Regardless of the winning measure, it may be an important first step in the formulation of clearer medical marijuana laws in Los Angeles.