Cheat Sheet: Ordinance F to Keep L.A.'s Medical Marijuana Shops Open

There are an estimated 1,700-1,800 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in Los Angeles. However, if the city of Los Angeles and the City Council had their way, they'd like to limit that number to 135.

Therein lies the crux of the medical marijuana debate being presented to voters on the May 21 ballot.

Should the remaining 1,600 or so medical marijuana shops be forced to close? Or should we allow these storefronts to remain open? Are they a nuisance to our neighborhoods or are they providing a legal and necessary service?

Ordinance F seeks to prevent any and all regulation on the number of medical pot shops allowed to operate in the city, so long as they meet a series of requirements. Those stipulations range from mandatory background checks to frequent testing of marijuana products sold to patients for pesticides and toxins.

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Key Points:


  • No limit on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries able to operate within city limits.

  • Raises taxes on dispensaries from $50 to $60 for every $1,000 of gross earnings, a 20 percent increase.

  • Mandates testing of marijuana sold at dispensaries for pesticides and toxins.

  • Requires background checks for both employees and volunteers of all dispensaries.

  • Prohibits minors from entering dispensaries.

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

  • All residential collectives are exempt from regulation.

What Your Vote Means:

Voting YES would allow an unlimited number of medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within city limits, so long as they meet city standards. It would also increases taxes on dispensaries by 20 percent and requires background checks for both employees and volunteers working at each dispensary. Marijuana testing is also required under this ballot initiative.

Voting NO would put the future of the estimated 1,700 medical marijuana dispensaries that opened after the 2007 Los Angeles City Council-imposed moratorium at risk.

Arguments Being Made For:

Ordinance F will protect our communities and children, strictly regulate medical marijuana collectives, require them to register, and provide desperately needed revenue to fund police, fire, and education.

To assure financial transparency, Ordinance F requires each dispensary to file an annual audit report of its operations, certified by an independent certified public accountant, with the City Controller.

Like Proposition D, Ordinance F would raise taxes on medical marijuana dispensaries by 20, but it would not cap the number of dispensaries allowed.

Arguments Being Made Against:

There are more illegal pot shops than ice cream shops in Los Angeles, and Ordinance F would tie the hands of neighborhoods under siege by these illegal shops.

The continued operation of illegal pot shops only creates the potential for increased blight, takeover robberies and even homicides.

This initiative would place the city of Los Angeles in endless litigation and divert vital resources from core services.

Ordinance F will only protect the untold millions of dollars of illegal cash profits made by illegal pot shop owners at the expense of our communities.

Principal Proponent(s):

Angelenos for Safe Access Committee, a consortium of dispensaries not allowed under present city laws

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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