LA Times Endorses Measure M, The Local Cannabis Ordinance Set For March 7 Ballot

shutterstock 562613677
shutterstock 562613677

LOS ANGELES – The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times has endorsed Measure M, the voter initiative slated for the March 7 ballot that seeks to provide a long-overdue regulatory (and statutory) fix to the legal hornet’s nest known as Proposition D, which, if Measure M is passed, will be repealed. With much of its language yet to be written, it is Measure M’s legislative suppleness that makes it appealing to the Times, which noted, “The best part of Measure M is that it gives city leaders the flexibility to tweak, repeal or add new regulations as needed, rather than having to go back to the voters.”

Measure M is the product of a working group made up of city council staff and a working group representing the collective interests of Los Angeles-based cannabis businesses.


“This endorsement by the Times shows that the city of Los Angeles and the Coalition are moving in the right direction in terms of what the community now wants from the cannabis industry,” a Coalition spokesperson told mg. “The endorsement represents that community support and tells us we’re doing the right thing.

“The most important parts of the measure, which are in there, involve taxation and enforcement,” the spokesperson added. “They needed to be done first. The rest of the language will be drafted after the election.”

Voters will see another cannabis-related initiative on the March 7 ballot, Measure N, which was originally drafted by the UCBA Trade Association, a group representing Los Angeles pre-ICO cannabis retailers. Following months of lobbying by fellow members of the industry, however, the UCBA voted to reject its own initiative and instead support Measure M. Unfortunately, that decision was made after the deadline to remove Measure N from the ballot. Instead the following message is included in the Voter Information Pamphlet.

“As the official proponents of Initiative Ordinance N, we no longer believe that this measure is in the City’s best interests. Therefore, we strongly urge you to VOTE NO ON INITIATIVE ORDINANCE N. Instead, we believe that Initiative Ordinance M is better for the City, and therefore we urge you to VOTE YES ON INITIATIVE ORDINANCE M.”

For more information about the Southern California Coalition and the campaign in support of Measure M, go here.

The following is the complete text of the Los Angeles Times endorsement of Measure M:

Endorsement Measure M would give L.A.’s legal marijuana industry the comprehensive oversight it needs. Vote yes

Californians may have voted to make recreational marijuana legal under state law in November, but details about who can grow, make and sell pot products, as well as where pot businesses can put down roots, are still being decided. Those decisions are weighty indeed, considering the market’s potential size and the concerns that remain about pot’s use. In March, Los Angeles voters will face two ballot measures that offer very different plans for what the city’s marijuana marketplace should look like: Measure M, which the City Council proposed, and Measure N, which a trade group for the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries sponsored. Measure M is by far the more fair and responsible.

Measure M is actually pretty sparse on the details, and that’s a good thing. It would give the City Council and mayor permission to repeal Proposition D — adopted by voters in 2013 to curb the spread of medical marijuana dispensaries — and to replace it with a new set of rules covering all aspects of the industry, from where marijuana businesses can locate and the hours they may operate to how they market their products.

Those initial regulations would be developed and adopted later this year after a series of public hearings. Of course, nobody can predict all the issues that will arise in the new marijuana marketplace. That’s why the best part of Measure M is that it gives city leaders the flexibility to tweak, repeal or add new regulations as needed, rather than having to go back to the voters.

The proposal would also impose a local gross receipts tax of 5% for medical cannabis sales (down from the current 6%), 10% for recreational cannabis, and 1%-2% for companies involved in transportation, research and cultivation, which are not currently regulated or taxed by the city. Finally, it would establish criminal and civil penalties for businesses that violate the new marijuana regulations, and authorize the Department of Water and Power to shut off utilities in illegal pot shops.

Measure N, by contrast, would impose an industry-written regulatory scheme on the city, while giving a monopoly over the local marijuana trade to the 135 dispensaries allowed under Proposition D unless the City Council voted to expand the number of permits. It’s never a good idea to let an industry write its own regulations.

Fortunately, the backers of “N” decided to abandon their measure (although at too late a date to remove it from the ballot) and support Measure M. Organizers said customers, communities and businesses are best served by working together with city leaders to develop uniform, comprehensive regulations. We agree. Vote yes on Measure M.

Proposition M will appear on the March 7 ballot, as follows:

Shall an ordinance providing for enforcement, taxation and regulation of cannabis and/or cannabis products (cannabis) by: 1) providing that the City Council retains the authority to amend existing and adopt new regulations regarding cannabis activity in the City after conducting public hearings regarding various aspects of the commercialization of cannabis and medical cannabis, and giving priority in the processing of applications to existing medical marijuana dispensaries operating in compliance with current City law; 2) authorizing criminal penalties, nuisance abatement, increased civil fines and disconnection of water and power utilities for unauthorized cannabis activities; and 3) establishing new business taxes, effective January 1, 2018, including taxes of $100 per each $1,000 of gross receipts from cannabis sales and $50 per each $1,000 of gross receipts from medical cannabis sales, $10 per each $1,000 of gross receipts from cannabis transportation, testing or research, and $20 per each $1,000 of gross receipts from cannabis manufacturing, cultivation or other commercialization of cannabis; be adopted?

More information about Measure M can be found on Ballotpedia, and the complete text of the Measure is available here.