Will Pot Shops Be Legal in Los Angeles?

Welcome to Los Angeles where pot shops are legal, maybe, or used to be, or might be in the future. In the past the City of Angels has tried, and seemingly failed, to regular or prohibit pot shops. The City Council banned pot dispensaries, but then lifted the ban. There are approximately 700 to 1,000 pot shops in the City.

Because this is Los Angeles, it looks like the voters will weigh in. But because it is Los Angeles they might not. Welcome to local politics.

Thus far the City Council has failed to put forward specific plans. Two groups, both medical marijuana advocates, are proposing competing ballot initiatives. One measure would allow people who have passed a background check to sell medical marijuana and would increase taxes on medical marijuana by approximately 20%. The increased tax revenue would like pay for the increased cost of regulation, and is also the reason the measure must go to a vote of the people. Owners and operators of those businesses would also have to abide by other requirements, such limited operating hours as zoning laws. Proponents of the measure contend that because of the zoning requirements, which would keep pot shops away from schools and parks, the number of pot shops in the city would be about 150.

The other measure would allow only those pot shops that were open before September 2007, when the City imposed a ban on new shops, to stay in business. That would mean about 100 pot shops would be allowed to operate in the City. Because this measure does not include a tax increase, it may not be put to a vote of the people.

Law makers and enforces in Los Angeles still have to contend with competing state and federal laws. Under state law it is legal to possess medical marijuana and for pot shops to sell it. However, under federal law it is still illegal to possess and sell marijuana.

It will be interested to see how much of an issue this topic becomes as the race to become the next mayor of Los Angeles heats up.

If the City Council fails to act first, it looks like voters in Los Angeles will weigh in on these competing measures in May.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is an Associate Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School. Read more of her posts here.

About the Author

Jessica Levinson is an Associate Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School. She focuses on the intersection of law and government.
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Here in Los Angeles we have two voters initiatives that have both recieved enough signatures to get on the ballot for May. I have issues with both initiatives and I will state some of them here.

My issue with the first initiative is the intention of the authors. Which is to monopolize medical marijuana in the city of Los Angeles. They are supported by the UFCW 770, who should be about people getting jobs, yet they want to put thousands of people out of work. That just doesn't make sense.

The initiative also would make is illegal for anyone on parole or probation for sale of a controlled substance to work in the industry. Not violent crimes, or pedophiles, but the people who were arrested for the very thing these people are asking for immunity from for doing. The head of GLACA, Yami, who really is just one of Don Duncan's pawns, has had her collective about 250 feet from a school since 2006. That's why they give themselves 300 days to move once the initiative gets voted in. The initiative is written to protect a select few. The interesting part is the fact they now leave out the need for the original owner to be involved with the collective. That way Montell will be OK to own them all.

Now with the second initiative, sponsered by David Welch, the lawyer who represents hundreds of collectives without any insurance, I almost had a stroke when I read it. It actually states that all collectives must be authorized by state and FEDERAL law. Yup, it says, FEDERAL law. Not once, not twice, but several times.

It also gives full power back to the city council to ammend the ordnance by a majority vote. Now I don't know any other voters initiative that has sought to take the power away from the legislature only to hand it right back to them on a platter. It goes against the point of a voters initiatve. Just read section 5 of the initiative, the last paragraph, which most never bother reading. It clearly states what I claim.

Both initiatives are self serving, one serving the interests of the small group of owners, the other serving the devious nature of David Welch's plan to do the dirty work of the city attorney and feds. If they wanted to really make a difference they would have decriminalized marijuana in this city and taken a step forward like washington and Colorado have done, not create more of an impedement to freeing the most useful plant on the earth. The most benign and benevolent plant to ever occur who's only danger is it's prohibition. Both of these seek more prohibitions through what they say are better rules for the "patients" and "communities", when they should just admit they are playing Milton Bradley games and trying to get the get out of jail free card and Boardwalk and park Place. I am not going to sit by quietlly and let such happen, what about you?

Patrick Duff