LOS ANGELES – Measure M, the Los Angeles City Council-sponsored ballot initiative green-lighting the comprehensive regulation of cannabis businesses in the city, was approved last night by voters in a landslide victory that saw 192,054 (79.4%) votes cast in the affirmative and only 49,964 (20.6%) votes cast against the measure.
Members of the industry, the city council, and supporters of the measure gathered last night for a Victory Party at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Sponsored by the Southern California Coalition (SCC), the group of industry business owners most directly engaged with the city in crafting the city’s new regulations, a few hundred people mingled on the outdoor patio of the Bonaventure Brewing Company as the returns came in on a small screen set up to the side. By 8:30pm, local news reports indicated that Measure M had an insurmountable lead and would coast to passage. A cheer went up from the gathering of people who understood the historic nature of what had just occurred. Members of the SCC board then addressed the assembled crowd.
“When we started down this road so many months ago, I never really thought it would end up like this,” said Erik Hultstrom, a cultivator and co-chair of the SCC. “But when you’re faced with a big challenge, every journey starts with one big step, and you just keep taking them, and soon enough you’re in a suit looking at a bunch of people in suits watching an election, saying, I think we did it. I really want to thank the cultivators, who really stepped up, and everyone who supported us and wants to see a Los Angeles industry dominated by Angelinos who have been fighting for this for over a decade, and did not want to see [the city] taken over by out-of-towners. Let the locals have a shot.
“Virgil [Grant] is the guy who made this all come together,” Hultstrom continued. “Without him I don’t know if we’d be here now. The things this man has done for our community over the last 20 years is just amazing, and he’ll probably never get the due that he deserves. But everyone here knows how we really got here, and that this is the guy we owe a lot of thanks.”
“This is the guy who spent six years in prison for this industry,” added Donnie Anderson, NAACP Chair and co-founder of the SCC with Grant.
Grant, a longtime dispensary operator and president of the SCC, addressed the gathering of Measure M supporters. “I could not have done this by myself without these ladies and gentlemen behind me,” he said “They have supported me and I have supported them, and we’ve supported each other. We built this organization to what it is today, the number one trade organization in California and in the United States. Believe that. We are going to continue this fight, not just in L.A., not just in California., but we’re headed to D.C. next. After this, we will see the [Los Angeles County] Board of Supervisors, and after we take care of our backyard, we’re going to stretch out and let our tentacles reach out to the entire United States. Keep in mind that L.A. is the number one [cannabis] market in the world, and everyone is paying attention to what we do. This is our first hurdle. Now the work begins, and we need everyone’s support as we move forward.”
City Council President Herb Wesson, who has taken the lead in making cannabis regulation a priority for the city, commented, “Los Angeles is leading the country and world in responsible and inclusive approaches to legalization. The passing of Proposition M is a great victory for common sense, law enforcement and all Angelenos. We gave communities a voice in the process, and their voices will continue to be heard. This measure is what responsible marijuana laws should look like, and we couldn’t be prouder of our city.”
The city and industry stakeholders will continue to meet to craft the final language for Measure M, a process proceeding so efficiently the city says it should be able to begin issuing licenses to do business in Los Angeles even before the state is ready to do the same.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force released the following statement following the passage of Measure M:
“A year ago the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force was the first voice to demand an open and fair cannabis industry in LA. Today’s passage of Measure M shows that voters agree: both long-term operators and new entrepreneurs deserve a chance to participate in this booming market. Today is a new day for cannabis regulations in LA, and the real work of developing licensing begins. It’s time for everyone to work together for a safer industry and towards a common goal, so our city can be a model for the state and the world.”