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City Council Votes to Draft Third Medical Marijuana Initiative

The council asks the city attorney to prepare an ordinance on medical marijuana regulation to be placed before voters in May.

Two weeks after the Los Angeles City Clerk certified two separate ballot initiatives sponsored by competing groups of medical marijuana advocates, the Los Angeles City Council voted 11-1 Wednesday to prepare for a third ballot measure designed by the city to regulate medical marijuana collectives.

The council’s vote directed City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to prepare the paperwork for a medical marijuana ordinance to be put on the May 21 municipal election ballot. The ordinance would have many of the provisions already contained in a “Limited Immunity Ordinance” crafted by the city attorney’s office in accordance with a plan proposed by Council member Paul Koretz last year.

The plan calls for the operation under strict guidelines of some 125 dispensaries that were in business before a Sept. 14, 2007 moratorium on new pot clinics.

Wednesday’s action by the City Council follows a motion proposed last week by Koretz, and seconded by Council President Herb Wesson, seeking to come up with a marijuana ordinance that would allay neighborhood concerns about hundreds of loosely regulated pot dispensaries while providing relief to patients who rely on marijuana for medical reasons. (See the attached PDF file for details of the motion.)

“I agree with anyone who will say that three measures on the same issue will be somewhat confusing,” Koretz told the council in a brief speech. “Still, on balance, this seems like the prudent way to go,” he added, referring to his proposal.

The two other ballot initiatives proposed by marijuana activists, Kortez argued in his motion last week, contain “a number of drafting and policy choices” likely to perpetuate the “unregulated proliferation of medical marijuana business and related activities in the City.”

While one of the initiatives carries a key provision requiring dispensaries to prove they were operating before the Sept. 14, 2007 moratorium, the other initiative seeks mainly to impose a $60 business tax on every $1,000 worth of marijuana sold in the city.

One of the ballot initiatives, in particular, “could leave far too little regulation of dispensaries and wouldn’t serve our neighborhoods,” Koretz said without specifying which of the two initiatives that is. “I think the best course for us is to offer voters a third alternative—a third and better alternative, which combines the revenue-raising provisions of one with the sensible controls on the numbers, locations and operations of dispensaries of the other.” He added: “This would ensure reasonable access but still protect our neighborhoods.”

The city council is expected to vote next week on the ordinance that the City Attorney prepares.

Koretz said he will continue his discussions with the proponents of the two other ballot measures “to see if we can reach a consensus before we act on this matter next week.”

Koretz said he understands that some council members are “somewhat more anti-medical marijuana” than others. “But I would ask you, rather than vote this down here today, to at least give us the chance to bring the paperwork for your consideration and take whatever actions you decide to take based on what you actually see before you next week.”

The lone opponent of Wednesday’s vote was Council member José Huizar. Last year, Huizar proposed a “gentle ban” on pot storefronts in an effort to provide access to marijuana for groups of three or less patients while state authorities and the California Supreme Court decide on how cities can or cannot regulate the industry.

“He has been consistent with his position,” Huizar’s communications director, Rick Coca, told Patch afer the vote. “The direction needs to come from the state and the Supreme Court, and we need to push that along.”

Council member Bill Rosendahl, who has admitted in the past to consuming marijuana for his diabetes-related disorders, said he favors the Koretz-Wesson proposal over the other two ballot initiatives. Arguing that legalizing marijuana is far better than legalized alcohol, he added that “no matter what we do here as a group,” developments surrounding both the medical and recreational use of marijuana “are going to continue in other states and on the national level.”

The bottom line, Rosendahl said, is “let’s move forward with this in this council now and show real leadership.”

Will Rogers IV January 17, 2013 at 12:45 AM
This is called hide the ball, our overpaid counsel people have thrown this issue down the road as always, now up to Tru....meanwhile there are like 40 MJ stores in Sherman Oaks alone.....
Tim Ryder January 17, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Do any of the proposed ordinances provide relief against Federal government meddling? It seems that this is the real problem that hasn't been addressed. As long as the federal Department of Prohibition (aka DEA) can invade our neighborhoods and harass our businesses with impunity then there is no protection of laws created by our City, County or State representatives. BTW, what's with Jose Huizar? Has that $15,000 a month salary turned him Republican?
Patrick Duff January 17, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Why doesn't anyone read these initiatives? The initiative that Arron green supports will make everyone illegal by the wording they chose. Read the initiative and see it mentions being authorized by state and FEDERAL law. WHAT? Which gen...ius wrote this. Ohh, the infamous David Welch? The attorney who is representing hundreds of collectives yet has no malpractice insurance? Read the last paragraph of the second initiative and you will see that this is the first voters initiative that gives full power back to the city to change it at will. Someone needs to investigate David welch and what his backround is. I have a lawsuit against him for legal malpractice, so from what I know he has no insurance. He offered his services to me for free then screwed me, is there anyone else out there with a similar story? Beware of people who say they are protecting patients like Yami, she set up 250 feet from an elementry school and charges top dollar for meds. I am sick of the medical marijuana actorvists, they are not activists, and I will be calling spades in the next couple of months.
Cricket January 17, 2013 at 02:17 AM
"This is a great ordinance" said no medical marijuana patient ever. Tired of all of the money hungry special interest groups trying to shut down your local patient collective because of the date they opened? Do something about it. www.PCA-LA.org We work in service of the patients, not specific groups of shops or unions. What a novel concept!
nonoise January 17, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Greater Cypress Park neighborhood council just had a discussion on this issue. The owners of the two stores were not invited to attend and give their feedback. The neighborhood council should have spoken to the owners and invited them to attend the neighborhood council meeting, but of course, they didn't.
Patrick Duff January 17, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Which initiative does PCA-LA support? Or do you folks support none of them?
Cricket January 18, 2013 at 07:06 AM
@Patrick We don't support any of them with their current language. We're focusing more on long term solutions. Drafting initiatives every year or so and paying for ongoing law suits isn't the way to win the war. They may be an immediate band-aid but long term, it does nothing except waste resources and we'll run out of those long before the government does. I think the city almost likes us, as a community, wasting money that should be going towards patient care on things like that.
Patrick Duff January 18, 2013 at 10:31 PM
The reason why it is illegal in the first place is because the government couldn't figure out a way to monopolize it themselves. I don't know how it is that people like David Welch and Don Duncan think they are going to be able to do it, especially when it seems they are just pawns of the government themselves.

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