January 16, 2013 | 1:23 pm — Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles City Council moved forward with its own medical marijuana ballot measure Wednesday, increasing the chances voters could face three pot initiatives on the May ballot.
On an 11-1 vote, the council instructed city lawyers to draw up language for a ballot measure that would restrict the number of marijuana dispensaries allowed in the city. Supporters of the measure, including Councilman Paul Koretz and Council President Herb Wesson, said it would raise taxes on medical marijuana sales and would permit only those dispensaries that opened before a city moratorium in 2007.
The proposal comes after two other initiatives qualified for the ballot this month. According to Wesson, “both of those measures have left us wanting.”
One would allow any pot shop that meets certain requirements to operate. It would also raise taxes on medical marijuana sales by 20% to pay for city enforcement.
The other measure, which is backed by a labor union that has organized dispensary workers as well as a prominent medical marijuana advocacy group, would, like the City Council proposal, allow only those shops that opened before the city moratorium. But according to Wesson and Koretz, the measure doesn’t require dispensaries to keep enough distance from one another and from churches, schools and parks.
“We have to have some kind of distance requirement because that’s what’s the making the neighborhoods crazy,” said Wesson. He said there’s a stretch of Pico Boulevard in his central Los Angeles district that people call “the green mile” because there are sometimes multiple pot shops on a single block.
Wesson said he hopes the city can craft a ballot measure that is attractive to the labor-led coalition that is supporting the second initiative. Although it is too late for that group to drop its own measure, it could throw its support behind the city measure, which Wesson said would increase the chances that it passes. (Cont. click link)