On Tuesday, Los Angeles residents voted to approve limiting the number of medical marijuana outlets in the city to 135, while at the same time increasing tax on medical marijuana from $50 to $60 for every $1000 worth of weed sold.
Preliminary results released on Wednesday showed that the measure, Proposition D, had 63 percent voting in favor of limiting the number of medical marijuana shops. However, two similar measures, also proposing restrictions on medical marijuana shops were defeated.
Currently, unofficial estimates claim that the number of dispensaries providing medical marijuana in Los Angeles can range anywhere from between 850-1700. However, official estimates peg the number at 850.
Supporters of Proposition D believe that passing of the measure and restricting the number of medical marijuana outlets on a rational measure – only outlets which existed before the city passed a moratorium in 2007 will be allowed to operate – may help to keep the federal government out of medical marijuana related issues in the city.
City Councilman Paul Koretz, the man behind Proposition D, said, “We’ve had a great amount of difficulty over the past few years on how to come up with a consensus for handling medical marijuana. This is the perfect solution.”
However, things are not going to be too smooth, as anticipated and one of the groups whose measures failed at the ballot have already indicated they would be challenging Proposition D in court. According to the group, the basis of disqualification in Proposition D is irrational and rather promotes shops that opened earlier and not shops that adhere to a certain set of rules.
Though California is the first state in the country to have legalized the use and sale of medical marijuana, cannabis remains as an illegal narcotic under federal law. A situation that has caused great confusion and bitterness in the legal arena and in the operation of the industry related to medical marijuana.
Once Proposition D comes into effect, the city will seek court orders to shut down dispensaries that do not qualify under the measure. At the same time the city will also seek back taxes from those outlets that continue to operate.
Proposition D also found the backing of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, which seeks proper legitimization of operations and works to unionize workers in the medical marijuana industry. According to UFCW, a big number of shops who would be able to remain open and would qualify under Proposition D, already have union ties.
The measure comes within weeks of the California Supreme Court ruling that local governments have the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, as local governments have the final say over use of land.