San Fernando Valley Business Journal

L.A. Still to Vote on Pot Shops

By Mark Madler Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A California Supreme Court decision allowing cities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries should not impact ballot measures going before Los Angeles voters May 21 to regulate dispensaries in the city.

The 39-page ruling written by Justice Marvin R. Baxter affirmed a state appellate court decision that the city of Riverside could use zoning laws to prohibit dispensaries within its borders.

While the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program passed in 2004 allow for medical access to marijuana, those state laws “do not expressly or impliedly preempt Riverside‘s zoning provisions declaring a medical marijuana dispensary… to be a prohibited use, and a public nuisance, anywhere within the city limits,” Baxter wrote.

The decision comes two weeks before Los Angeles city voters cast ballots on three initiatives regulating medical marijuana shops.

Proposition D, put on the ballot by a vote of the City Council, would restrict to 135 the number of dispensaries that can operate, with priority given to those with uninterrupted operations since September 2007. The competing Initiative Ordinance F would allow a greater number of dispensaries to stay open with preference given to those businesses with city tax certificates issued before October 2012 and operating for more than 90 days.

Both Prop. D and Initiative F would require dispensaries to be located 1,000 feet from any schools and increase the gross receipts tax to $60 per $1,000 of sales from its current rate of $50.

Initiative Ordnance E is similar in language to Proposition D, and while on the ballot, its backers have suspended their campaign and no longer seek its passage.