Cheat Sheet: Ordinance E to Limit, Redefine L.A. Medical Marijuana Shops

Originally supported by the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, Ordinance E is now the odd man out in this three-pronged medical marijuana debate. Like the city of Los Angeles' Proposition D, Ordinance E seeks to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the city to 135, the approximate number approved by the city prior to the 2007 moratorium placed on dispensaries. Currently, there's an estimated 1,700 to 1,800 dispensaries.

But Ordinance E has one major oversight: nowhere in the legislation is there a stipulation to raise taxes on medical marijuana dispensaries. The omission, coupled with a series of compromises made between Ordinance E proponents and the City Council, has led the original supporters of Ordinance E to abandon the measure. They have instructed their supporters to vote for Proposition D.

Notwithstanding, Ordinance E will still be on the May 21 ballot. And while its principal proponents have jumped ship, the ballot measure still has support.

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Key Points:


  • Caps the number dispensaries operating within city limits at 135.

  • No new taxes levied on dispensaries.

  • Permits minors who are caregivers and/or patients to enter a dispensary when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

  • Does not mandate testing of marijuana sold at dispensaries for pesticides and toxins.

  • Requires background checks for all dispensary employees.

  • All dispensaries must stay closed between the hours of 8 p.m. to 10 a.m.

  • Exempts groups of five or fewer caregivers/patients who cultivate or process medical marijuana from regulation.

What Your Vote Means:

Voting YES would cap the number of legal medical marijuana dispensaries at 135, but allow collectives with five or fewer patients and/or caregivers to be exempt for regulation. It would also not increase taxes on dispensaries.

Voting NO would mean the medical marijuana dispensaries that opened after the 2007 city-imposed moratorium would be allowed to keep their doors open.

Arguments Being Made For:

The official proponents of Ordinance E have concluded that the Los Angeles City Council-backed Proposition D supports the principles set forth in their initiative, and say there is no longer a need for voters to support Ordinance E.

Arguments Being Made Against:

The ordinance will increase the proliferation of illegal pot shops across Los Angeles.

It would protect the untold millions of illegal cash profits made by illegal pot shop owners at the expense of our communities.

The ordinance would put the City in endless litigtion, diverting vital resources from core services.

Ordinance E does not raise taxes on dispensaries, blocking much-needed revenue for the city.

Principal Proponent(s):

Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods; previously backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

For the full text of the ordinance, scroll through below:

NOTE: The author of this post -- not the proponents of each measure -- selected the aforementioned key points for each ballot measure. They do not represent all of the provisions detailed in Proposition D and ordinances E and F, rather they are intended to offer the salient details.

About the Author

Benjamin Gottlieb is an award-winning multiplatform journalist from Los Angeles, CA. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN.com and NPR, among others.
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