Los Angeles to vote on two possible MMJ regulatory questions in March

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Los Angeles voters next year will weigh two options to replace a more restrictive ordinance that currently governs the local medical cannabis industry, now that the City Council has unanimously approved a ballot measure for the March 7 municipal election.

The newest measure, assuming it gets the green light from Mayor Eric Garcetti, would compete against a parallel initiative put forth by the UCBA Trade Association, an organization of longstanding Los Angeles MMJ dispensaries. The UCBA’s initiative would give preference in the licensing process to 135 dispensaries that already qualify for “limited immunity” from prosecution, under the voter-approved Proposition D, which passed in 2013.

The city’s new initiative, by contrast, is much broader, and simply leaves future cannabis industry regulations to the city council. The measure itself doesn’t specify any rules aside from a few tax regulations, such as a mandate that licensed rec cannabis retailers pay a $100 business tax per $1,000 of gross receipts, while medical cannabis retailers would have to pay $50 per $1,000 of gross receipts.

Many other specifics, such as whether the city would cap the number of MJ-related business permits, were left out of the city’s initiative and would be decided at a later date by local lawmakers, if voters approve the measure.

Either way, it looks likely that Proposition D will be replaced with a more industry-friendly ordinance in March.