Initiative Would Overturn Laguna’s Ban on Medical Marijuana Stores

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A petition calling for the legalization of medical marijuana dispensaries in Laguna Beach and the repeal of the city’s

Prescription marijuana
Prescription marijuana

ban on them will be placed on either a special election ballot in July or on the general election ballot in November.

Besides considering when voters will vote on the measure, the City Council will also address whether to pursue its own counter ballot initiative to oppose legalizing dispensaries at its meeting tonight, Tuesday, April 12.

The petition carried 3,912 signatures with 2,414 validated as registered Laguna Beach voters by the OC Registrar of Voters. That number exceeds 15 percent of the city’s 15,298 registered voters, a percentage required to validate an initiative and for it to be put to a vote.

The council denied medical marijuana dispensaries in Laguna Beach in 2009 and recently debated a ban on delivery services within city limits. In 1996, California voters passed Prop. 215, the Compassionate Use Act, allowing people with certain health conditions to use and grow marijuana as a medical treatment. Laguna Beach voters approved the measure by 71 percent while statewide approval was 56 percent.

Council members will decide whether to hold a special election in July to determine the fate of the initiative to overturn the local ban on dispensaries or to place the question on the general-election ballot in November. They can also support the initiative, which would eliminate the need for the initiative to be placed on the ballot, according to Phil Kohn, city attorney, unless the council decides voters should still weigh in. The council’s approval is equivalent to a vote, said Kohn, and cannot be repealed later without returning the issue to voters.

The council could also counter by adding a competing local measure on the November ballot asking voters to support its current ban on dispensaries and would need to qualify that measure by the end of next month.

The terms of the local initiative call for establishing two regulated dispensaries in town.

Collecting sales tax will likely be a driving force to legalize the regulated dispersal of medical marijuana, according to a statewide measure on the November ballot, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana. If approved, the measure would legalize the recreational use of pot and impose a 15 percent sales tax on purchases at medical marijuana dispensaries. The measure is backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. The measure would also give city governments the authority to regulate commercial non-medical marijuana businesses. Cities also have the authority to regulate, or ban, medical marijuana dispensaries while following state guidelines, Kohn said.

If voters approve, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will allow anyone over 21 years old to possess and use pot for recreational purposes.

Signatures for the initiative were solicited around town at grocery stores, the Farmers’ Market and other highly visited places around town, said City Clerk Lisette Chel.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. It’s just a matter of time before the entire planet realizes it’s a harmless plant with alot of medical benefits. It’s been used in Asia for centuries, seems like an artist community would be more open to the idea of a mind expanding healing substance that is legal in other states.

  2. The entire planet can wrap itself into a giant ganja spliff for all I care. Just let me be on Mars when it happens.
    Marijuana is just one of those things man ruined , it could have helps us but like everything else it has to be shoved in our faces .
    I say if it could be controlled where only the sick and infirm posses it that would be fine, but it really is only a bandaid of what it could be if only everyone didn’t want to make a profit. The whole medical movement was suppose to be a co operative structure and non profit.
    That’s one of the faults of democracy just because everyone wants it doesn’t really mean it’s what we need.

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