Effort to Legalize L.A. Pot Shops Is Almost Ready for Your Vote

Over the counter
Over the counter
Gustavo Turner/L.A. Weekly

In case you didn't know, L.A.'s marijuana dispensaries aren't really legal. They're tolerated. Under voter-approved Proposition D a relatively small number of local pot shops, about 135 or less, enjoy limited legal immunity from prosecution.

A group that says it represents a majority of those limited-immunity dispensaries, the United Cannabis Business Alliance (UCBA), announced it has turned in more than the number of voter signatures required to put a measure before the people on the March ballot. The organization wants City Hall to fully permit collectives, which will be required under state law if the shops want to stay open.

"After Jan. 1, 2018, the voter-approved Proposition D will no longer provide sufficient legal grounds for any cannabis activity to take place in the city unless a new regulatory system is adopted," the UCBA explained in a statement.

The group says it turned in more than 100,000 signatures when only 61,487 are needed. The City Clerk's office still needs to verify the signatures. If the UCBA turned in enough of them, the City Council has the options of approving the measure itself, calling for a special election, or putting it on the next available city or county ballot — in this case, March's.

The measure would create a city Department of Medical Marijuana Regulation to dispense permits mainly to the original 135 limited-immunity shops, which date back to 2007. However, it would also allow the City Council to open the door to new shops, cultivators, manufacturers and "all activities permitted under MMRSA," the state's Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act that will take effect in 2018.

Organizers originally said they would not legalize delivery — pot delivery services are illegal in the city under Proposition D, according to city attorney Mike Feuer — but the measure's proposed language would allow the council to approve delivery if it's done by "brick-and-mortar" collectives.

Jerred Kiloh, president of the UCBA, said, "We worked hard to draft an ordinance that will provide $10,000-per-day fines for illegal operators, increase city revenues by including taxes on medical and adult use and give the City Council full authority to provide ownership opportunities for economically disadvantaged communities."

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