What This Week's Supreme Court Ruling Means For L.A.'s 3 Marijuana Ballot Measures

A closeup of a marijuana bud grown in an indoor growing facility in Santa Barbara, CA. | Photo: Courtesy Kyle Trafas

In the wake of the California Supreme Court opinion affirming that cities and counties can outlaw medical marijuana dispensaries by invoking local zoning laws, proponents of medicinal pot in Los Angeles say the stakes are now higher for passing a comprehensive plan regulating the sale and distribution of marijuana in the city.

The state's highest court ruled unanimously Monday that the city of Riverside had the right to prohibit all pot dispensaries in their jurisdiction, adding to a list of roughly 200 localities with zoning bans already in place. It's the expectation by many engrossed in California's marijuana debate that other cities and counties will follow suit, upping the ante for the three medicinal pot initiatives -- Proposition D and ordinances E and F -- on Los Angeles' May 21 ballot.

"Given yesterday's Court ruling, if none of the three medical marijuana measures passes, it could embolden the City Council to once again seek banning [dispensaries] altogether," said Bradley Hertz, an attorney for the Yes on Proposition D campaign, a Los Angeles City Council-backed initiative seeking to regulate local pot shops.

Cheat Sheet: Proposition C Seeks to Limit Corporations' Influence on Campaigns

The 2012 election season was, by far, the most expensive in United States history.

More than $6 billion were spent on candidates running for local, state, and national offices. The presidential race alone had a $2.6 billion bill. The unprecedented spending trumped the second-most expensive campaign season by more than $700 million.

One can argue that anticipated economic factors, such as inflation, made such exceptional expenditure possible.

But for proponents of Proposition C, the unparalleled spending is the result of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), a 2010 United States Supreme Court decision that prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations, labor unions, and special interest groups.

On May 21, Los Angeles voters will weigh in on this ruling with Proposition C, a measure that would instruct local lawmakers -- especially those who take up residence in Washington -- to support legislation calling for a reversal of this Supreme Court decision. The idea is that, eventually, public pressure will prompt the drafting of a constitutional amendment that would remove big money from electioneering for good.

L.A.'s May 21 Election: Today is the Last Day to Register to Vote

If you want to vote for a new Los Angeles Mayor, on three medical marijuana propositions, and other items in a few weeks, today is your last chance to register.

And by this point, the only way to really guarantee registration, is to do it online before midnight; it's handled by the California Secretary of State's office at this webpage. The other option is more cumbersome: fill out a paper form and hand deliver to L.A. County's Norwalk office by close of business.

Besides four propositions, including an advisory measure about election money, the May 21 election is the final say for a number of political offices not decided during the March 5 Primary election. KCET's Ballot Brief has been tracking (and now mapping) the direct donations to candidates in these races, all which can be seen here.

Oil & Gas Tax Prop Clears Hurdle for 2014 Ballot

Oil derricks in L.A. County. | Photo: Storm Crypt/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Backers of an initiative to impose a 9.5 percent tax on oil and natural gas extracted in California, primarily to increase funding for education, received permission last week from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin gathering signatures.

During its first 10 years, 60 percent of the revenues generated by what is dubbed as the California Modernization and Economic Development Act would be allocated to education -- split equally between kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education.

Another 22 percent would go to clean energy projects and research, 15 percent to counties for infrastructure and public health and safety services, and 3 percent to state parks.

L.A. Election: 3 Medical Marijuana Measures, a Long Way to a Solution

On May 21 voters in Los Angeles will have the opportunity to vote for the city's next mayor. But that is not all. Those few Angelenos who venture to the polls or send in their ballots will also weigh in on three competing ballot measures all dealing with medical marijuana. Two qualified for the ballot via the initiative process, one was put on the ballot by the City Council.

As with all other types of ballot measures, those supporting the various measures will financially benefit from their passage. Indeed, the measures have divided the medical marijuana community, to the extent that there was such a community.

(To understand the specifics of these measures, Ballot Brief's Ben Gottlieb has done some great in-depth reporting here.)

It is possible that none of the measures will garner the 50 percent of the vote necessary to become law. In that event it seems likely that the next election will bring one or more new proposals concerning the sale of medical marijuana.

Do California Lawmakers Actually Write Our Laws?

Who writes the law? Many of us assume that legislators or their staffers perform this task. But that answer may be only partially complete.

In California, a bill's "sponsor" is listed in legislative analyses. This purportedly gives the public important information about the identity of those supporting measures which may become law.

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