Civil Liberties

LA Voters May Have Three Pot Initiatives on Ballot in May

Including one by the unresponsive City Council not happy with current public efforts


Even in the complicated world of pot politics, it's a confusing prospect: In the May municipal election, Los Angeles voters could face not one but three ballot measures geared toward regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.

All three of the proposals would allow some pot shops to remain open, albeit under different regulations.

The first two measures, which are sponsored by two groups of medical marijuana activists with competing interests, qualified for the ballot last week. One would permit only those dispensaries that opened before a city moratorium in 2007. The other would allow any pot shop that meets certain requirements to operate and would raise taxes on medical marijuana sales by 20% to pay for city enforcement.

Neither of those options appeals to the City Council, which has struggled for years to regulate medical cannabis against a backdrop of ever-shifting case law and increasing pressure from federal drug enforcement officials. City Council President Herb Wesson said Monday that neither of the existing ballot measure proposals would "accomplish the goal of limiting the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries while providing adequate protections for our neighborhoods."