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Los Angeles Voters Approve New Citywide Marijuana Regulations

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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.