The L.A. City Council today approved two competing marijuana initiatives for the May 21 ballot and came a step closer to putting its own, third measure before voters, too.
At the same time one of the initiatives' backers, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, said it would abandon campaigning for its own measure (which will nonetheless remain on the ballot) and throw its weight behind the City Council's proposal.
Why the strange bedfellows?
Yami Bolanos, president of GLACA, told the Weekly that the city's initiative is giving her group everything it wants. (Strange given that, just last year the city tried to shut down all dispensaries only to be rejected by a referendum).
That proposal mirrors the GLACA-supported initiative and would outlaw pre-fall 2007 dispensaries, essentially putting GLACA's competition out of business and reducing the number of pot shops in town from as many as 1,000 to between 100 and 180.
We've been in the fight for 7 years, fighting against the city. Now the city's with us. We're pretty happy about it. It's close enough to everything that we wanted.
Given that Councilmen Joe Buscaino, Mitch Englander, Jose Huizar and Bernard Parks voted against putting the city's measure on the ballot, it will have to come back for a second vote next week.
The law, proposed by Councilman Paul Koretz, would raise city taxes on dispensaries from $50 per $1,000 in sales to $60. Otherwise it pretty much reflects the GLACA-supported measure.
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The other initiative would basically let most dispensaries survive so long as operators underwent background checks, operating hours were honored, and they don't exist near schools and parks.
Asked if GLACA would campaign against that measure, Bolanos said no:
I don't believe in throwing dirt to make ourselves look good. We just need to push our agenda forward and the voters will decide.