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L.A. voters approve closing hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries, regulating remaining industry

Posted on May 23, 2013 by Site Admin

 Los Angeles is okay with medical marijuana dispensaries, but not at the overwhelming level at which they populate the city currently.

Voters in L.A. yesterday overwhelmingly supported a measure that allows for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city, but drops the number of shops down from somewhere between 800 to 1,000 to just 135 - the number of shops before L.A.'s original 2007 dispensary moratorium. Dispensaries opened after 2007 will have to shut their doors.

Proposition D, supported by about 63 percent of the voters, not only limits the number of dispensaries but also raises taxes on medical pot by $10 for every $1,000 in gross earnings.

The local United Food and Commercial Workers Union put their support behind the proposal, no doubt helping to tip the scales. UFCW Organizing director Rigo Valdez said the move is a way to ensure access to patients through regulation. The number of dispensaries and the lack of control before an open invitation to more federal intervention.

"I think that if the city attorney and the city of L.A. says, 'We've got this,'" that the federal government stays out," he said.

L.A. has had a tumultuous relationship with medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives. In addition to the 2007 moratorium, the city also passed an unsuccessful measure in 2010 to limit the number of dispensaries to 70. That failed after numerous lawsuits were filed against the city. Another ban was approved last summer, but wasn't implemented due to overwhelming support for citizen initiative repeal.

Because of that past history, we're wondering if the new measure will even make a difference.

There were two other alternatives for voters to consider: Ordinance E would have kept the taxes the same as they are now while limiting the dispensaries to 135. Growers would have been exempt from the ban. Ordinance F, which was supported by most of the dispensaries, allowed for the 1,000 or so dispensaries to remain open and would have raised taxes identically to Proposition D. Proposals E and F were both shot down with more "no" votes than "yes."


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