Proponents of L.A. medical marijuana ballot measure shift support


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A coalition of medical marijuana activists that fought to put an ordinance regulating pot shops on the May ballot are abandoning their own initiative in favor of a city-backed ballot measure that seeks similar regulations.

Representatives for Americans for Safe Access, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Greater Los Angeles Collectives Alliance announced Monday that they plan to campaign on behalf of the city’s proposal, which the City Council is expected to vote this week to place on the ballot.


The city proposal is similar to the one originally supported by the groups in that it allows only pot dispensaries that opened before a 2007 moratorium to operate. Unlike the group’s original ordinance, the city proposal will increase the tax levied on medical marijuana sales.

It’s too late for the group to withdraw its ordinance, which means there will probably be three initiatives seeking to regulate pot shops on the May ballot. But the shift announced Monday means there will be political campaigns on behalf of only two of them.

The third ballot measure is backed mostly by a group of dispensaries that opened after the moratorium. It would allow all dispensaries to continue operating and let new ones open, so long as they meet certain restrictions. That measure would also raise the sales tax.

Members of the Greater Los Angeles Collectives Alliance, made up of pre-moratorium dispensaries, believe they have a better shot of passing an ordinance that would protect them if they join forces with the city, according to Yami Bolanos, the organization’s director.

The city has struggled for years to regulate pot shops. After complaints from neighborhood activists, the council enacted a ban on storefront marijuana sales last July. But it retreated two months later, repealing the ban after a well-organized coalition of marijuana activists mounted an effort to overturn it at the ballot box.



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L.A. City Council bans medical marijuana dispensaries -- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall