By Edwin Folven, 1/17/2013
Voters to decide how shops will be regulated
Voters will likely decide between three separate medical marijuana ballot measures during the May 21 general municipal election.
The Los Angeles Council on Wednesday approved two initiatives for the ballot generated by medical marijuana proponents, and gave preliminary approval to an initiative authored by City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, that blends provisions from both proposals. If voters approve more than one initiative, the measure that garners the most votes will be the only one to take effect.
The first initiative would allow dispensaries who were in operation before the 2007 moratorium on pot shops to remain open. It would require all of the others, now believed to number nearly 1,000, to close. It would also require the remaining dispensaries to be 1,000 feet from schools, libraries, community centers and other places considered to be sensitive locations.
The second initiative places no restrictions on the number of dispensaries that can remain open. It calls for the dispensaries to be located away from sensitive areas, and would raise the business tax to $60 per $1,000 in gross receipts, an approximate 20 percent increase.
Koretz’s motion mirrors the first proposal, and also includes the tax increase provision. The councilman said he believes it will be the best choice for voters.
“What we are trying to do is take the best elements from both of the other initiatives,” Koretz said. “One has a tax on establishments, which will likely help it get votes, but it is not restrictive enough. The other will allow the ones operating before 2007 to remain open, close to one hundred or so, and they tend to be the ones that are the least problematic.”
Koretz said the motion he authored was approved and sent back to the city attorney’s office for a draft to be created, and a second vote will likely occur on either Jan. 29 or 30. Whatever ballot measure is enacted, the law could eventually change when the California Supreme Court rules on whether cities and counties can regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. The court has agreed to examine the issue, but no date has been set. Additionally, federal authorities have vowed to continue to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries because federal law states that marijuana is illegal under any circumstance.