Posted by Don Duncan
A coalition of medical cannabis patients, providers, and organized labor submitted 70,000 signatures on Friday to qualify a voter initiative for the May ballot in Los Angeles. The Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods (CPPN), which includes Americans for Safe Access (ASA), developed the voter initiative to establish sensible regulations for medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives in the city. The proposal would limit the number of facilities in the city to those that meet certain criteria – opening date, proximity to sensitive uses, hours of operation, etc.
Advocates are turning to the voter initiative process in Los Angeles because they are increasingly frustrated with the City Council’s progress on long-standing promises to protect access for patients. The City Council spent years creating an adopting a flawed ordinance in 2010, but numerous lawsuits (by patients’ associations and the city) rendered the measure unenforceable. After settlement talks with the City Attorney collapsed earlier this year, Councilmember Huizar introduced and quickly passed an ordinance that effectively banned all cooperatives and collectives in the city. CPPN mounted a successful voter referendum to force the repeal of the ban, but the city still has no regulations for medical cannabis.
Research conducted by ASA proves that sensible regulations reduce crime and complaints, while preserving safe access for patients. It is past time for California’s largest city to enjoy the benefits of reasonable regulations. The City Council still has time to adopt a regulatory ordinance before the vote in May. A compromise ordinance, which would allow a small number of facilities in the city, was approved by the City Planning Commission last month. It is unclear if City Council Members are willing to approve it, and advocates want to be sure the voters are poised to act if the Council does not.
A separate medical cannabis voter initiative is in the signature gathering phase right now. It is possible that the City Council will be debating the compromise ordinance while advocates are gearing up to campaign for two separate measures. If either measure is approved, it will replace the city’s ordinance. If voters approve both measures, the initiative with the highest number of votes will prevail.
Stay tuned for an eventful winter and spring in LA!