Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council considers third medical marijuana measure for May ballot

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A third measure regulating medical marijuana storefronts in Los Angeles could be headed toward the May ballot.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-1 Wednesday to draft ballot language that would allow some existing clinics to remain in operation while formalizing restrictions on where the shops can be located. Only those clinics that were opened prior to September of 2007, when the city first approved a set of rules for dispensaries, could remain open. Even then, they would be have to meet requirements including:

  • Ban consumption on the premises
  • Close from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Pay taxes
  • Prohibit minors
  • Conduct LAPD background checks on employees
  • Operate more than 1,000 feet from schools, libraries, parks and religious institutions

The city estimates there are 800 to 1,000 clinics operating in the city. Only about 180 of them opened before the 2007 restrictions took effect. 

The proposal, authored by Councilman Paul Koretz, would increase the tax on clinics to $60 per $1,000 of gross receipts. One medical marijuana initiative that has qualified for the May 21 ballot, sponsored by Angelenos for Safe Access, also calls for increasing the tax on clinics, but without limiting the number in operation.

Another measure, backed by Americans for Safe Access, would also place time and location restrictions on clinics that opened prior to September of 2007. (Representatives from both groups talked about their proposals on KPCC’s AirTalk earlier this month.) 

“This will ensure reasonable access but still protect our neighborhoods,” Koretz said. “I agree with anyone who will say that three measures on the same issue will be somewhat confusing. Still, on balance, this seems like the prudent way to go.”

A draft of the measure will be voted on next week. In the meantime, city officials will meet with the groups behind the two other ballot measures to determine if a consensus can be reached. 

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