PROPOSITION D: Los Angeles Finally Has Regulations & California Medical Marijuana Laws That Stick
The Voters Chose
Los Angeles voters approved Proposition D, which caps the number of cannabis shops at 135 in the city and raises taxes on the operations. Prop. D received 63 percent of the votes on May 21, which is more than the simple majority needed to become law.
For the past six-plus years, dispensaries and other MMJ industry members have had little-to-no direction from the city. Dispensaries, grow operations, delivery services and the like, have been getting raided and popping up, willy-nilly, because there were no regulations or regulatory California medical marijuana laws. After the May 21 elections, there are now regulations that create firm, enforceable boundaries.
Will it Stick?
In 2010, the city tried to pass a similar ordinance to allow these dispensaries to remain open, but legal challenges defeated the city. When the city appealed this defeat, the appellate court overruled the lower judge's opinion, and basically endorsed the city's 2010 ordinance. By the time the appellate court rendered its decision, though, it was moot because the time frame for enactment of the ordinance had passed and the city could not enforce it.
Although a legal analyst could find technical problems with Prop. D, its similarity to the 2010 ordinance, coupled with the overwhelming public support of the measure, a judge would likely let it lie. Therefore, the current ordinance will likely stand up to legal challenges.
Who Stays and Who Goes?
The city estimates there are approximately 135 dispensaries that qualify. These are dispensaries that registered with the city before 2007, and have not moved or been shut down.
The hundreds of remaining dispensaries and collectives will have mixed reactions to the proposition. Some will sue the city, some will stay open under the radar and some will close their doors—willingly or forcefully. Due to the consolidated market, though, I am optimistic that those who have been involved in the medical cannabis industry for the past decade will join forces to serve the patients of Los Angeles.
Will There be Lawsuits?
Yes, people will probably sue and we will stay tuned, but I am skeptical of large changes to Prop. D. While the dust is settling though, you can bet money that new issues and new litigation will spring up to further revolutionize this movement.
What About the Feds?
The feds have had to regulate Los Angeles for fear of a continued “Wild Wild West” atmosphere. Now that the city has made clear boundaries, the feds can back of completely or target those dispensaries that are operating outside of Prop. D. The 135 dispensaries are likely safe as long as they refrain from crossing state lines and stay within the spirit of California law.
Also, as a TIME article title suggests, when it comes to full legalization, “It's not if, but when.” Federal authorities will slowly withdraw the medical cannabis battle and full legalization is on its way! Here in California, 2016 seems to be the year!
Meital Manzuri is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney, speaker and consultant for patients, collectives and dispensaries. If you have questions about medical cannabis or any other criminal defense matters, she can be contacted via phone at (310) 601-3140 or manzurilaw.com.
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