What you need to know about Prop. F and Prop. D, L.A.’s battling marijuana propositions

Medical marijuana clinics are allowed to operate in California because voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996. The initiative allowed the establishment of marijuana collectives in the state for people using cannabis as a way to relieve pain  Since then, California cities, like Los Angeles, have struggled to regulate the marijuana dispensary industry.
Medical marijuana clinics are allowed to operate in California because voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996. The initiative allowed the establishment of marijuana collectives in the state for people using cannabis as a way to relieve pain Since then, California cities, like Los Angeles, have struggled to regulate the marijuana dispensary industry.

Earlier this morning, the California Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that communities have the right to ban medical marijuana clinics from operating in their city limits using local zoning and land use ordinances. Currently, about 200 California communities maintain such bans using their zoning authority. Los Angeles, where cannabis clubs are as common as Starbucks, isn’t one of the places with a pot dispensary ban,  but that doesn’t mean the city hasn’t wrestled with the issue of cannabis clinics for years.

In fact, if you visit a Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary this very month, you’re likely to get an earful of voter information along with your bag of cannabis. That’s because there are two big competing marijuana initiatives on the May ballot, Proposition D and Proposition F.  There is another pot initiative on the ballot, Prop. E, but backers of that measure have thrown their support behind Prop. D, so it’s considered a non-player in the issue.

The backers of each proposition say passage of their measure would help end the long debate in Los Angeles over how best to regulate the city’s booming medical pot business. That business has been good for medical marijuana patients, who often use the pot to relieve chronic pain, but it’s been bad for some L.A. residents who complain that their neighborhoods have been blanketed by pot clinics. Complaints about the dispensaries have led some L.A. elected officials to advocate a complete ban on the dispensaries.

Proposition D says it will bring peace to L.A.’s marijuana dispute by limiting the number of dispensaries to 135, all of which have operated since September of 2007. But Prop. F would exempt from that numerical limit dwellings where three or fewer people cultivate marijuana for patients. The measure would also increase the municipal tax on marijuana dispensaries from $50  to $60 for each $1,000 of gross receipts earned.

Proposition F goes a different direction by not proposing a cap on the number of dispensaries allowed in Los Angeles. Its backers instead emphasize how under their measure marijuana clinics would have to register with  the city and meet certain operational standards. Those include keeping a certain distance from schools and parks and requiring background checks for dispensary employees. Like Proposition D, Prop. F also increases the tax on marijuana clinics from $50 to $60  for every $1,000 earned.

Supporters of Prop. D say limiting the number of cannabis clinics in L.A. is the best and most practical way to deal with public and political opposition to the marijuana clinics while keeping dispensaries open.

Proponents of Prop. F say 135 clinics just aren’t enough for a city the size of L.A. They also argue that limiting the number of cannabis clinics will lead to marijuana “superstores” in L.A. controlled by a chosen few who have a lock on the market.

Listen below to hear from dispensary operators on each side of the issue.

[soundcloud id=’90993468′]

Along with their cannabis, customers at L.A.'s marijuana dispensaries are getting a dose of campaign information and election advice. The dispute Proposition D and Proposition F has divided L.A.'s cannabis community.  (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Along with their cannabis, customers at L.A.’s marijuana dispensaries are getting a dose of campaign information and election advice. The dispute Proposition D and Proposition F has divided L.A.’s cannabis community. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Brennan Thicke, who operates a marijuana dispensary in West Los Angeles, is a supporter of Proposition D. He says limiting the number of dispensaries in L.A. to 135 could head off more stringent restrictions on the clinics by the City of Los Angeles. "What I think that does is give the city a sense that they are in control a little better than what has happened in the past. And we hope that when they are in control, they won't need to use the DEA as their backup method of enforcement," says Thicke. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Brennan Thicke, who operates a marijuana dispensary in West Los Angeles, is a supporter of Proposition D. He says limiting the number of dispensaries in L.A. to 135 could head off more stringent restrictions on the clinics by the City of Los Angeles. “What I think that does is give the city a sense that they are in control a little better than what has happened in the past. And we hope that when they are in control, they won’t need to use the DEA as their backup method of enforcement,” says Thicke. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Michelle Daskalos, the co-director of a cannabis dispensary in Venice, is supporting Proposition F. It's the initiative that would allow no numerical cap on the number of dispensaries in L.A. in exchange for such measures as limiting how close dispensaries can be to schools and parks and requiring background checks on dispensary employees. Daskalos worries  that allowing 135 dispensaries in Los Angeles will cause hardships for clinic customers and lead to the creation of marijuana monopolies among a few dispensary operators. "You are going to have these shops doing enormous business. This is going to turn into a whole different industry," says Daskalos. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Michelle Daskalos, the co-director of a cannabis dispensary in Venice, is supporting Proposition F. It’s the initiative that would allow no numerical cap on the number of dispensaries in L.A. in exchange for such measures as limiting how close dispensaries can be to schools and parks and requiring background checks on dispensary employees. Daskalos worries that allowing 135 dispensaries in Los Angeles will cause hardships for clinic customers and lead to the creation of marijuana monopolies among a few dispensary operators. “You are going to have these shops doing enormous business. This is going to turn into a whole different industry,” says Daskalos. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Some of the products on display at one L.A. cannabis clinic. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Some of the products on display at one L.A. cannabis clinic. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)