Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA voters opt to limit marijuana dispensaries

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A man smokes a marijuana cigarrette in Montevideo on December 7, 2012.

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Los Angeles city voters Tuesday decided to dramatically limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries, approving Measure D by a 63 to 37 margin.

The measure allows only the 135 dispensaries that registered with the city before September 2007 to remain open. Hundreds of others must close immediately. In addition, the remaining dispensaries must locate themselves at least 1,000 feet from schools, and employees will now undergo criminal background checks. 

Those dispensaries also face an increase in taxes — rising to $60 per $1,000 of gross receipts.  

A majority of the city council supported Measure D. The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which is organizing dispensary employees, also campaigned for it.

Measure F, which would have allowed an unlimited number of dispensaries, failed 59 to 41 percent.  Measure E, which was abandoned by supporters, also failed.

With the passage of Measure D, some medical marijuana activists breathed a sigh of relief. They were worried that if all three measures failed, the city council would enact an outright ban on dispensaries, which was made possible by a recent state Supreme Court ruling.

Measure F supporters decried the passage of the rival measure. They said marijuana patients would have a harder time obtaining pot from fewer dispensaries, and the remaining shops would charge more for marijuana.

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