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Medical Marijuana Initiatives May Be Placed on Citywide Ballot

Voters could vote on two initiatives to further regulate medicinal marijuana in the city.

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to place two medical marijuana initiatives before voters on the May 21 citywide election ballot.

The council voted 8-4 on each of the initiatives, requiring a second majority vote of the 15-member council next week.

One initiative would allow an unlimited number of storefront dispensaries that are certain distance from schools, parks libraries, child care centers and religious institutions. It would also include a 20 percent increase in the business tax on cannabis sales to $60 per every $1,000 of marijuana sold.

A second so-called "limited immunity" measure would dramatically reduce the number of medical pot shops in the city from hundreds down to about 100, by only allowing those that can prove they were operating prior to Sept. 14, 2007, when the city first tried to limit an explosion in the number of dispensaries around the city.

  • Read: On Jan. 9, federal agents busted a Marina del Rey dispensary, and seized cash and marijuana. The raid was one of three that day on Los Angeles medicinal marijuana dispensaries. 

Separate coalitions of medical marijuana advocates gathered enough petition signatures to qualify the two initiatives for the city's ballot, which will feature races for mayor and city council seats.

City Council members Jose Huizar, Mitchell Englander, Jan Perry and Bernard Parks opposed placing the initiatives on the ballot.

Huizar said any new ordinance would bbe premature until the state Supreme Court rules on pending lawsuits or the state fixes California law governing the distribution of medical marijuana, including provisions that restrict doctors' abilities to freely prescribe the drug for any illness.

"No matter what we do, we have a state law that is unworkable and makes it very difficult for local governments to come up with a legal framework that allows for safe access and protection for neighborhoods,'' Huizar said.

"So no matter what we do, I think it's going to negatively impact our local neighborhoods," he said.

"The council continues to support a dispensary model for how marijuana is distributed when a dispensary model is illegal under state law. A sale of marijuana is illegal, whether you do it over the counter or in the street.''

The City Council voted last week to move forward with yet a third measure for the May ballot that would be a hybrid of the other two. The plan sponsored by Councilman Paul Koretz would include the tax increase on medical marijuana sales but would also reduce the number by limiting those allowed to the pre-September 2007 marijuana collectives. It would also include limitations on hours of operation, require background checks for collective employees and require dispensaries to be certain distances from each other and sensitive uses like schools and childcare locations.

The city attorney is expected to present draft language for Koretz's ballot measure next week. The council has until the end of the month to agree to place the finalized language on the ballot.

Patrick Duff January 23, 2013 at 09:24 PM
So how about those that went before those who decided to jump in on the band wagon in 2007? What about those who were raided in the years prior to 2007 and fought like hell against the feds, suffered arrests, siezures of property, stripping them of their children, and jailing them for providing medicine? Why does this initiative make it illegal for people like Eddy Lepp to work in the industry but not for violent offenders or people who committed crimes against children? This is the same power grab that has been happening since 2007 by a small group of people concerned with their bottom line, not safer communities or providing safe access. I do find it interesting that the GLACA initiative doesn't require the original owner anymore, as they have been trumpeting for years, but maybe that's because Don Duncan sold his place to Montel Williams and many other GLACA affiliates are planning on doing the same.
Patrick Duff January 23, 2013 at 09:24 PM
The second initiative, sponsered by David Welch, the lawyer who represents hundreds of collectives without any insurance, almost gave me a stroke when I read it. It actually states that all collectives must be authorized and or comply by state and FEDERAL law. Yup, it says, FEDERAL law. Not once, not twice, but several times. I don't know which agent at the DEA or the US Prosecutors office held a gun to David Welch while he wrote this, but if they didn't, it seems he is working for them. The initiative also gives full power back to the city council to ammend the ordnance by a majority vote. Now I don't know any other voters initiative that has sought to take the power away from the legislature only to hand it right back to them on a platter. It goes against the point of a voters initiatve. Just read section 5 of the initiative, the last paragraph, which most never bother reading. It clearly states what I claim. Both initiatives are sponsered by groups of owners, not any neighborhood association calling for regulations. Doesn't that say something to you?

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