In an early count of votes, Measure M, which would allow the Los Angeles City Council to license and regulate marijuana businesses, was winning big, nearly 77 percent in favor to 23 percent against. As of this report 8 percent of precincts were weighing in.
Backers of the measure claimed victory shortly after 8:30 p.m. "We are thrilled Angelenos voted yes on Proposition M," Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a collective of marijuana concerns supporting the initiative, said in a statement. " ... The measure will ... provide the city with more jobs, along with millions in tax revenue towards city services each year."
Legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), requires dispensaries to obtain state and local licenses starting next year. Not only does the city of Los Angeles fail to provide such permits, it essentially outlawed pot shops under voter-approved Proposition D in 2013. The measure established a look-the-other-way system under which about 135 shops were granted limited legal immunity.
Measure M seeks to make those shops compliant with MCRSA by overturning D and allowing the City Council to issue permits and start taxing and regulating retailers and producers of pot products. The measure, spearheaded by City Council President Herb Wesson, would also allow the body to expand the number of shops in town and legalize delivery services.
"This is a framework that allows for control and sensible regulation," Spiker of the Southern California Coalition said last month. "There will also finally be licenses, and operators can do business without looking over their shoulders."
The measure would also clear the path for recreational pot shops in L.A. Under Proposition 64, which California voters approved in November, recreational sales can begin next year.
Also on the ballot is Measure N, organized but abandoned by a group of marijuana dispensaries, the United Cannabis Business Alliance, that's now throwing its weight behind M. Similarly, N would open the door to licensing, taxation, regulation and expansion. But N favored those 135 limited legal immunity shops going forward.
N was losing — with nearly 55 percent of voters opposed — with about 8 percent of precincts reporting.
*Updated at 10:40 p.m. with fresh vote figures and a quote from the Southern California Coalition.