los angeles

Voters in Los Angeles decided in favor of a citywide initiative that sought to bring clarity and oversight to the medical cannabis market.

On March 8, Measure M—a city council sponsored ballot measure to establish rules on how and where marijuana retailers may operate within the city limits—passed by a 79% margin. During the same municipal election, voters rejected by a 64% margin Measure N that sought to artificially cap the number of dispensaries operating in Los Angeles.

Passage of the new ordinance paves the way for the repeal of 2013’s Proposition D, which halted the expansion of medical marijuana businesses. It allows local lawmakers to establish a regulatory framework to govern what some believe is the largest urban marijuana distribution market in the world.

Once local licensing guidelines are established, dispensaries will be able to apply for state licensing under the Medical Marijuana Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018. It establishes a two-tiered licensing system that requires dispensaries to be locally permitted prior to seeking state approval.

Measure M also reduces city tax rates on the gross receipts of medical cannabis sales from 6% to 5%, imposes a 10% tax on retail sales and enacts a tax of up to 2% on companies involved in marijuana cultivation or delivery.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson hailed the outcome, stating: “Los Angeles is leading the country and world in responsible and inclusive approaches to legalization. The passing of Proposition M is a great victory for common sense, law enforcement and all Angelenos. We gave communities a voice in the process, and their voices will continue to be heard. This measure is what responsible marijuana laws should look like, and we couldn’t be prouder of our city.”

Measure M was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, the California Growers Association and the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, among a coalition of other groups.

About Paul Armentano

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and a Senior Policy Advisor at Freedom Leaf. He also serves on the faculty of Oaksterdam University. Mr. Armentano’s writing and research on marijuana policy have appeared in well over 750 publications, scholarly and/or peer-reviewed journals, as well as in more than two dozen textbooks and anthologies. He is the co-author of the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (2009, Chelsea Green), which has been licensed and translated internationally, and more recently, The Citizens’ Guide to State-by-State Marijuana Laws (Whitman Books, 2015). Mr. Armentano is the 2013 Freedom Law School Health Freedom Champion of the Year and the 2013 Alfred R. Lindesmith award recipient in the achievement in the field of scholarship.

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