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LA Votes on Licenses Today, Raids Tomorrow. Confused?

March 7, 2017
Manhattan Beach, California, USA - January 30, 2016: View of Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Manhattan Beach Pier with locals and tourist enjoying a clear day in Southern California
There’s a lot of cannabis political action happening over the next 48 hours in Los Angeles. It’s a bit confusing, so we’re here to sort through it for you.

Today, voters in the City of Los Angeles are considering Proposition M. That’s a measure that would establish a citywide licensing system for cannabis dispensaries, and ultimately adult-use stores. Prop M would also give city officials the ability to shut down unlicensed cannabis operations using civil tools like daily monetary fines and power-and-water shutoffs, rather than resorting to police raids.

The City wants to license, then shut down. The County wants the opposite.

For more information on what Prop M would do, Leafly contributor Hayley Fox has a great explainer here.

There’s another measure on the ballot, Proposition N, which also has to do with cannabis. But ignore Prop N. The group that originally wrote Prop N has swung its support to Prop M, but it was too late to remove N from the ballot. So LA voters: Vote on M, ignore N.

Tomorrow, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a plan to immediately shut down all existing medical marijuana dispensaries in outlying county areas (but not those contained within the City of Los Angeles).

As Dennis Romero explained in yesterday’s LA Weekly, the Board of Supervisors is, like the City of Los Angeles, considering a licensing plan for cannabis businesses within its borders. But unlike the City, the County may raid them and shut them down first, and then offer licenses. Sort of a slate-wiping approach.

The County Board of Supervisors already voted on Feb. 7 to close all dispensaries. At that time the Supervisors asked the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to come up with a plan to physically shut them down. The Board indicated its willingness to spend up to $25 million to do so. Dispensaries have been banned in unincorporated Los Angeles County since 2011. The Feb. 7 vote merely extended that ban, with an extra vote to ask for enforcement.

So: Citizens within the City of Los Angeles are voting to offer a legal path now, with enforcement later. Los Angeles County Supervisors are voting to enforce now, and offer a legal path later.

If you’re wondering whether your local dispensary could be affected by either measure, here are maps of the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.

City of Los Angeles, in green.


Los Angeles County. Areas shown in white are incorporated cities.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

View Bruce Barcott's articles

  • SandyLester

    Are the county supervisors stupid on purpose? They voted to throw away a billion dollars in tax revenue, because they are
    ignorant. I swear, there are still people who believe “refer Madness”.

  • RevJack

    Typical power hungry assholes. They aren’t in any way representatives of the people (unless you are giving them many thousands of dollars and taking them on vacations). It wasn’t that long ago that the LA City Supervisors wanted to make all the shops illegal and shut them down, for fear that they wouldn’t be able to legaly control them. Yes it you can’t control it, you power-mad psychopaths, you want to destroy it instead.