Cheat Sheet: Proposition D to Limit, Tax L.A. Medical Marijuana Shops

After two voter-led medical marijuana initiatives made their way onto Los Angeles' May 21 ballot, the City Council was determined to act. Proposition D is the Los Angeles City Council's response to these two initiatives -- ordinances E and F -- and intended to be a compromise between the two.

At its core, Proposition D is a nonproliferation law. It seeks to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the city to 135, approximately the same number allowed by the city prior to a 2007 moratorium imposed by the City Council. Currently, there's an estimated 1,700 to 1,800 dispensaries.

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The proposition also seeks to increase taxes on dispensaries by 20 percent.

Supporters of Ordinance E, chiefly the United Farm and Commercial Workers union, have recently thrown their support behind D. Angelenos for Safe Access Committee, a consortium of dispensaries not allowed under present city laws, remains vehemently opposed.

Key Points:


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

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

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

  • Requires background checks for all dispensary employees.

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

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

  • Dwellings of three or fewer caretakers/patients growing marijuana for their patients or themselves are exempt from regulation.

What Your Vote Means:

Voting YES would force the closure of an estimated 1,700 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating within city limits and a tax increase of 20 percent on the remaining 135 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. Taxes would not increase on dispensaries.

Arguments Being Made For:

Proposition D was drafted by the city of Los Angeles and put on the ballot by the City Council, not by special interest groups.

It's a fair compromise between the two voter-led initiatives seeking to regulate medical marijuana in the City.

It's supported by locally elected and neighborhood leaders, patients, caregivers, and patient advocates.

It would reduce the number of dispensaries to approximately 135, down from an estimated 1,700-1,800 that currently exists, and raise taxes on those dispensaries to inject much needed revenue into the City's, coffers

Arguments Being Made Against:

Proposition D is based on a distinction between marijuana collectives that was found to be unconstitutional by Judge Anthony Mohr of the Los Angeles Superior Court and could be found unconstitutional again -- which would leave the city without regulation.

The proposition 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.

It will not provide additional tax revenue. Medicine is not subject to tax.

The proposition would put the city in endless litigtion, diverting vital resources from core services.

Principal Proponent(s):

The city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles City Council, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)

For the full text of the proposition, 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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