Two initiatives that would regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles are headed for the City Council and, possibly, the ballot.
The L.A. City Clerk's office today said both the initiatives have collected enough valid signatures to warrant a vote by the City Council, which must either approve them or send them to voters, likely in May.
One of the two initiatives would close down most of L.A.'s pot shops:
The office said the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods' initiative, which would put most of L.A.'s 1,000 or so shops out of business save for the 180 or so that were established before October of 2007, meet or beat the requirement to turn in 41,138 signatures.
That one is supported by Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, Americans for Safe Access-LA and UFCW Local 770. It would reward the old-school shops while shutting down most if not all of the newer ones.
The “Medical Marijuana Collectives Initiative Ordinance” also beat the same signature requirement, the City Clerk's office announced today.
It would essentially allow dispensaries to stay open so long as they abide by certain rules, including staying away from schools and parks, hiring licensed security, having operators undergo background checks, and maintaining certain hours.
That initiative would also establish city permits for pot shops.
So why are the dispensaries trying to regulate themselves? In hopes of avoiding another City Hall debacle like the one in October in which the council overreached and tried to shut down all pot shops only to be rebuffed by a referendum.
Marijuana retailers fear the council will try again. So instead of leaving it up to City Hall, they want to take pot shop regulation straight to voters.
In each initiative's case, the council can approve the proposed law, call a special election, or put the matter before voters during the next regularly scheduled election.
Given that these two have opposing qualities, it seems that they would be headed for the May 21 ballot. But we'll see.