Third L.A. Marijuana Initiative, Sponsored by Council, To Be Considered

With two dueling Los Angeles marijuana regulation proposals already set to compete for votes in May, city council has thrown in another curve: a third proposal. xincheckbox.jpg

Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers understand that council members voted 11-1 to instruct city lawyers to draft language for a ballot measure that would essentially combine the strictest elements of the two already up for consideration.

The good news is that any one of the measures would allow marijuana dispensaries to remain open. However, the outlined regulations of each proposal vary drastically.

The first two proposals were sponsored by marijuana activists with competing interests.

One of those measures focuses on promoting only those dispensaries that were operational prior to the 2007 moratorium the city tried to enact. All others would have to go.

The second measure would allow any marijuana dispensary that abides by certain rules and meets certain criteria to remain open. For those facilities that did remain open, sales taxes would spike by 20 percent in order to cover the cost of enforcement.

City council could have chosen to simply adopt either one of those. But it seems members were not eager to do so, and instead, intend to ask voters to consider another option. Council’s proposal, though not yet formally introduced, would allow only those dispensaries open prior to the moratorium to remain open and it would also hike taxes on marijuana sales.

Council’s reported problem with the earlier measure limiting permits to the pre-2007 operations was that it did not include enough of a buffer zone between schools and churches and parks. So an expansion of these regulations, from 600 feet to 1,000 feet, is likely as well.

Although it would be too late for either group to withdraw its initiative, the activists behind both of the previous plans could choose to publicly support the city’s plan instead. City leaders have said they are hoping to set up meetings to discuss such a partnership in the coming days.

However, one of the leaders of the labor union that introduced the first measure said the city would have to compromise on a few points in order for that to happen. For starters, his group doesn’t like the expanded buffer zones. Such a requirement would force many of the older facilities to close, and it would be incredibly hard for them to secure a new lease or purchase, given federal pressure on landlords through the use of civil forfeiture actions.

Additionally, he said the council would have to include a provision indicating that even if a court at some point struck down a portion of the law, it wouldn’t result in scrapping the entire thing.

Finally, while his colleagues don’t agree with the idea of a huge tax increase for dispensaries, he said they would likely be willing to concede this issue if council could compromise on the rest.

No matter what happens, there is the potential for legal challenges once the measure is implemented.

The council’s attempt last year to clamp down on dispensaries by banning all storefront facilities was met with fierce opposition, forcing local leaders to withdraw the implementation of the ordinance.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
CA: Third Medical Marijuana Proposal on Los Angeles Ballot, Jan. 17, 2013, By Thomas H. Clarke, The Daily Chronic
L.A. council advances pot dispensary measure, Jan. 16, 2013, By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
More Blog Entries:
L.A. City Council To Consider Medical Marijuana Initiatives, Jan. 10, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog