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A budtender pours marijuana from a jar at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary, which opened in 2006, on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Two separate groups sponsoring initiatives to regulate medical marijuana in Los Angeles have submitted signatures to qualify for the May ballot. A Los Angeles city clerk confirmed on Wednesday that the Medical Marijuana Collectives Initiative Ordinance, which would permit only the medical marijuana dispensaries that existed before the city’s 2007 moratorium, had over 41,000 signatures.
Major medical marijuana advocacy groups, including Americans for Safe Access and the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, as well as the local arm of the powerful United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union, back the initiative. If passed, it would leave about 100 dispensaries open in Los Angeles. A separate initiative, the Regulation of Medical Marijuana for Safe Neighborhoods and Safe Access, sponsored by Angelenos for Safe Access, has submitted over 60,000 signatures and hopes to be qualified for the ballot as well. That initiative would provide for a tax increase on marijuana sales in addition to restrictions on dispensary locations to limit their proximity to schools. The L.A. City Council has struggled to regulate medical marijuana; it’s already considering adopting an ordinance that would allow most pot shops to stay open, but would increase regulations on their locations and operations.
Federal crackdown on Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries has increased in recent years – the local U.S. Attorney has issued over 70 cease and desist orders. But that may change: public views on marijuana regulations and restrictions are in flux, and President Obama recently stood up for state marijuana regulations.
During the November election, Colorado and Washington both passed measures legalizing recreational marijuana. Is California on its way to looser marijuana laws? How should Los Angeles regulate medical marijuana? With two competing measures on the May ballot, how will Angelenos cast their votes?
Don Duncan, Southern California coordinator for Americans for Safe Access and spokesperson for The Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods, sponsors of the Medical Marijuana Collectives Initiative Ordinance
Aaron Green, spokesperson for Angelenos for Safe Access, sponsors of the Regulation of Medical Marijuana for Safe Neighborhoods and Safe Access
Alice Walton, KPCC Reporter
Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that both measures had qualified for the ballot. A second initiative is currently under review by the City Clerk.