Crucial Los Angeles marijuana ballot measure passes easily

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(Note: This report was updated Wednesday with final election results.)

The Los Angeles marijuana industry took a big step toward legal legitimacy Tuesday with the passage of Proposition M, a city ballot measure that sets the stage for a new municipal permitting system.

Prop M cruised to victory with 79% of the vote, while a competing ballot measure, Initiative N, failed with 36% of the vote.

Prop M, among other things, repeals a previous ordinance that technically allowed just 135 dispensaries to operate within city limits.

A new city licensing system is vital for L.A. cannabis companies to comply with upcoming state regulations, which, starting in January, will require a local permit to obtain any state business license.

Prop M also sets a Sept. 30 deadline for the city council to pass a new regulatory structure for the industry, authorizes new and steeper fines for unlicensed MJ businesses and establishes sales tax rates for different types of MJ business licenses.

Initiative N had been placed on the ballot by a group of dispensaries, the UCBA Trade Association, in part to get the city to propose Prop M, which the UCBA then threw its support behind.

The L.A. Cannabis Task Force, which backed Prop M, issued a statement Wednesday morning celebrating the measure’s victory:

“Today is a new day for cannabis regulations in L.A., and the real work of developing licensing begins. It’s time for everyone to work together for a safer industry and toward a common goal, so our city can be a model for the state and the world.”

The next step for the city is a series of public hearings before the council crafts specific regulations, which will include business license fees, zoning stipulations, possible permit caps and license categories that may include delivery companies.