Pot measure backers begin campaign
April 15, 2013
Rick Orlov, LA Daily News
With three measures on the May 21 ballot dealing with medical marijuana, backers of a City Council-authored plan on Tuesday officially launched a campaign looking to persuade voters why their compromise represents the best option.
"We are concerned," Councilman Paul Koretz said at a news conference outside City Hall. "That's why we are kicking off this campaign to make people aware of Proposition D and what it would do."
Los Angeles has been grappling with the medical marijuana issue for 17 years and has been faced with an open system that has resulted in as many as 1,000 unregulated dispensaries operating in the city.
Proposition D would limit the number of dispensaries to 135, while restricting their locations near schools, parks and churches and placing a 20 percent tax on gross receipts. It also requires background checks of employees. It was developed by the city to counter two other measures that qualified through the initiative process.
Proposition E also limits the number of dispensaries to 135, with exemptions for collectives of five or fewer members. But it offers no tax and fewer restrictions on locations. Prop. E backers have shifted their support to Prop. D.
Proposition F offers no cap and was developed by other dispensary operators who would be shut out under the 135 cap.
Proposition F spokesman Garry South said it has stronger controls than Proposition D, by requiring clinics to follow the same limitations on their locations, background checks of all employees and volunteers, annual financial audits, parking requirements and testing of the marijuana being dispensed.
"Prop. F does not limit the number of clinics and it does not grandfather in a select few dispensaries," South said.
Both Propositions D and F would impose a gross receipts tax of 20 percent for every $1,000 in revenue.
Rick Icaza, head of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 770, which has organized several of the clinics allowed under Proposition D, said the measure is needed to have controls in place for the allowed dispensaries.
"We need to make sure we have qualified people working at these dispensaries, earning a good wage so they can support their families," Icaza said.
Don Duncan of the pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access said his organization also supports Measure D.
"We have been working to provide safe access since 2004," Duncan said. "What Measure D is about is providing safe access. It makes it permanent, safe and dignified."