Los Angeles voters will get a chance to choose whether to keep pot shops open in the city when they go to the polls in May, thanks to a second medical marijuana initiative that qualified for the L.A. ballot Friday.
The measure would allow any medical marijuana dispensary that meets certain requirements to remain. Dispensaries would have to keep limited hours, conduct background checks for staff and stay a specified distance from schools and parks.
The measure would also raise taxes on medical marijuana sales by 20% to help pay for city regulation of the industry. In 2011, voters approved a $50 business tax on every $1,000 of gross receipts for medical marijuana sales. Because the new measure would increase that tax, it must be put to voters, according to Holly Wolcott in the city clerk's office.
The initiative's backers, who were notified Friday that they had collected the required 41,138 valid signatures to get their measure on the ballot, represent a group of dispensaries that opened after a citywide moratorium on pot shops was enacted in 2007.
A rival medical cannabis measure, which would allow only those dispensaries that opened before the moratorium, qualified for the ballot earlier this week. The City Council will have to decide before the end of the month whether to enact the proposed ordinance, call a special election or place it before voters in the May 21 election.
David Welch, an attorney for the group that qualified for the ballot on Friday, said supporters of the initiative had already raised $400,000 for the campaign and were working to raise $500,000 more.
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