Los Angeles Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

L.A. City Council Takes Battle Against Unregulated Marijuana Shops to the Ballot

Voters to decide whether to close hundreds of dispensaries or validate their right to do business


Must resist candy store jokes
Credit: Peter Kim, Dreamstime.com

Mail-in ballots are arriving at Los Angeles homes for those who don't want to trudge down to their local churches and elementary schools on May 21. The election includes the final run-off for mayor (a choice between which public unions will actually be running the office), a couple of other races, a stupid resolution objecting to the outcome of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, and three competing initiatives to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

I was planning to put together a primer on the three initiatives – they are written in typical ballot initiative language and therefore are incomprehensible by average humans – but then it turned out Benjamin Gottlieb at KCET summarized them and pointed out the difference yesterday. He's got all three of them here.

To quickly explain, though:

Proposition D was put on the ballot by L.A. City Council. It caps the number of dispensaries at 135, essentially protectionism for the first shops to open prior to a moratorium enacted in 2007. It also raises taxes on dispensaries by 20 percent and requires background checks for all dispensary workers. Gottlieb notes that California courts have taken a dim view on some of the distinctions proposed and have already declared them unconstitutional. The ballot initiative could ultimately be struck down by the courts. (You better believe, though, that the Department of Justice will be more than happy to use the measure as an excuse to go after all the remaining dispensaries regardless of the court's ruling)

Ordinance E was pushed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and was mostly the same as Measure D, but the measure neglected to extract more taxes from the pot dispensaries. This is Los Angeles, not Texas, so once Measure D was crafted, Measure E's supporters jumped ship and now support Measure D instead. For those wondering why the union is involved with this, they've worked to unionize several of those early dispensaries. The City-County Observer notes:

The 50-plus dispensaries with union ties would be allowed to stay in business, said Rigo Valdez, an organizing director with UFCW. One city councilman estimates there may be as many as 900 dispensaries now open in Los Angeles.

If the union-backed initiative is successful, it would put most of those dispensaries out of business and make the UFCW a dominant player in one of the nation's most important markets for legal marijuana sales.

Ordinance F would prevent the city from implementing a cap, preventing the closure of all the other dispensaries. But it also mandates background checks, raises taxes on marijuana sales, and mandates the testing of marijuana for pesticides and toxins.

Ordinance F comes off as the market-friendliest of choices, while the other two manage to combine community fearmongering with business and union protection rackets.

Elsewhere in Southern California, feds raided more marijuana dispensaries in the San Diego area yesterday, even as their City Council is working on drafting ordinances legalizing them and the mayor said the city would stop prosecuting them.

Below: Reason TV on the history of L.A.'s efforts to defy the will of the public on medical marijuana.

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  1. I wish I was an LA shut-in and could vote from my recliner. There are consumers wanting to spend money on medical marijuana, and businesses willing to provide that service. It’s a bad situation that could get out of hand quickly.

  2. Fucking potheads.

    1. Are you uninformed, or just a dick?

      1. Is there some special reason I can’t dislike potheads?

        1. Well, do you call anyone who buys alcohol an alcoholic? I’m alluding to some hypocrisy in case you’re too daft to realize.

          1. Nope, I don’t. I drink alcohol from time to time. I have never smoked pot and never will. How does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t care if people smoke a pound of pot and then squirt the bong water up their ass with a turkey baster, they’re free to do as they please. I also am free to call those people fucking potheads.

            1. Absolutely right, you fucking drunk.

              1. See how I’m not crying over something a person on the Internet said?

            2. If you agree that there are varying degrees of alcohol drinker, then you should believe that there is such a thing as an occasional pot smoker, using derogatory terms that imply abuse and overuse such as “pothead” to paint a whole wide spectrum of users yet not doing the same for your drug of choice, alcohol, is indeed hypocritical.

              1. I don’t care if you drink a gallon of mikes hard and then squirt everclear up your ass with a turkey baster, you’re free to do as you please.Fucking hypocritical alcoholic.

              2. then you should believe that there is such a thing as an occasional pot smoker

                I never said I didn’t.

                using derogatory terms that imply abuse and overuse such as “pothead” to paint a whole wide spectrum of users yet not doing the same for your drug of choice, alcohol, is indeed hypocritical

                Calling people who smoke pot “potheads” without calling people who drink alcohol “alcoholics” is hypocritical now? Do I also have to call people who take an aspirin “hypochondriacs” too now? Maybe you could find a corner to sit in and have a good cry about it.

                1. Thank you for answering my original question and confirming for me that you are, indeed, a dick.

                  1. Thank you for answering my original question and confirming for me that you are, indeed, a dick.

                    Glad I could sort that out for you.

              3. using derogatory terms that imply abuse and overuse such as “pothead”

                Is it possible that the word “pothead” indicating someone who abuses and overuses pot is completely a construct of your own mind? Is it possible that I think a person who casually uses pot IS overusing it? Does that still make me a hypocrite? Did you just need some reason to get your panties in a knot today?

  3. Does anybody explain why background checks would be necessary other than increasing the cost of doing business for dispensaries?

    1. Why they might sell it on the black market – just like those yahoos buying legal pot in colorado to sell at home

      /whatever random idiot I was channelling there.

      I think that’s their excuse anyway.

      1. … Excuse me for a moment while I close my eyes and take a fantasy stabcation.

  4. “For those wondering why the union is involved with this, they’ve worked to unionize several of those early dispensaries.”

    Once union jobs depend on pot being legal, it’s all over but the shouting.

    Should have seen that solution all along! The only thing more intractable in LA than the gangs is the unions. But now that the unions are effectively muscling in on the gangs’ distribution turf…

    How do we get rid of the unions?

    1. Fire, fire is the answer, just like in the Thing.

  5. At a quick glance it appears that if Props D & E split the “regulate more” vote, then Prop F will enhance liberty. So, yay?

    1. It’s still unlikely Prop F will pass.

  6. MEASURE F will create more tax revenue for our city that is already in need of money for schools,underprivileged communities,and general city maintenance. It will do so from an existent,growing medicinal industry that helps many people heal without the need of expensive medical insurance. If you believe in convenient access to clean, tested medicine, then TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO VOTE YES ON MEASURE F!

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