An initiative that would allow about 100 medical marijuana shops to continue operating under tighter restrictions in Los Angeles is expected to be considered by the City Council later this month.
City Clerk June Lagmay announced on Wednesday that backers of the initiative, dubbed the "Medical Marijuana Collectives Initiative Ordinance," had gathered the required 41,138 signatures on a petition.
The clerk's certification sends the initiative to the City Council, which can adopt the ordinance as is, call a special election, or place the item on the May 21 general municipal election ballot. The City Council is expected to make a decision on the measure this month.
If enacted, the measure would reduce the number of medical marijuana dispensaries from somewhere in the hundreds down to about 100 that would operate under various restrictions, including business hours and location. Key to hitting to that target number is a provision that would require the dispensaries to prove they were operating before Sept. 14, 2007, when the city first tried to place a moratorium on new pot shops.
The group sponsoring the initiative is called the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods. It is made up of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance and Americans for Safe Access L.A.
UFCW Local 770 President Rick Icaza said the initiative would "guarantee safe access to medical cannabis for those suffering from debilitating and painful diseases and conditions, while at the same time enforcing the rule of law and protecting neighborhoods."
Icaza urged the City Council to adopt the ordinance instead of placing it on the ballot.
"It's time to stop playing politics with people's health and the safety of our communities," Icaza said, referring to the city's years of attempts to regulate medical marijuana.
The latest attempt came in July, when the City Council voted to ban all storefront dispensaries. That effort was reversed in October when medical marijuana supporters gathered enough signatures to repeal the ban.
Meanwhile, a group backing a separate medical marijuana initiative last month submitted more than 73,500 petition signatures to qualify a measure that would place similar time and place restrictions on dispensaries, but would not limit the number to those that opened prior to the Sept. 14, 2007 cutoff.
That initiative, backed by a group called Angelenos for Safe Access, would allow storefront medical cannabis collectives to operate if they are at least 500 to 1,000 feet from schools, parks, libraries, childcare centers and religious institutions. It would also impose a business tax of $60 on every $1,000 of marijuana sold at the dispensaries.