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Cannabis Trade Group to Mayor: Quickly Implement New Law

A cannabis trade organization announced Friday that it sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council asking them to quickly implement the recently approved Measure M.

The Southern California Coalition also asked city officials to refrain from further legal action against existing marijuana shops under the law it is to replace. Measure M, which was overwhelmingly approved by city voters on March 7, repeals a ban on new medical marijuana dispensaries under the previously approved Proposition D and replaces it with a new set of rules for different types of marijuana businesses.

The City Council drafted the measure, and it was backed by the coalition. George Kivork, a spokesman for Garcetti, said the office received the letter this afternoon and was reviewing it.

Industry operators are worried the city or its police department will take action against existing businesses that may be in violation of Proposition D, which gave limited immunity from prosecution to 135 pot shops that were open before 2007 but prohibited any new ones from opening, according to the coalition.

City Attorney Mike Feuer's website says he has shut down more than 800 unlawful dispensaries throughout the city since taking office in 2013, and states that Proposition D remains in place until new local legislation is enacted following public hearings.

In November, California voters approved Proposition 64, which immediately made cannabis possession legal for adults 21 and over and legalized the sale of recreational marijuana as of Jan. 1, 2018.

Measure M essentially prepares the city to regulate the coming legalized marijuana industry. A motion recently passed by the City Council estimates that legalized pot shops could generate up to $100 million in taxes for the city's general fund within the first few years.

Measure M will give the city tools to enforce its regulations on the legalized industry. Businesses operating without a license or ignoring city rules could face fines, criminal penalties and the threat of their power and water service being shut off. Measure M also allows for gross receipts taxes to be imposed on marijuana business activity, including the sale of general-use and medical cannabis, delivery services and manufacturing.

The SCC wrote that should the city continue to enforce Proposition D, "We fear that our painstaking efforts to create an open and transparent process could deteriorate."

"It would likely leave operators saddled with fears that their public participation in this process could result in their businesses being singled out or targeted, which would only force these small business owners to remain in the shadows," the coalition wrote.

"The city would also miss out on a meaningful opportunity to obtain invaluable and critical input from a variety of key stakeholders. This could place the city in exactly the same place it is now -- with harmful policies that are ineffective at best."

The letter also asks for a "bare-bones temporary registration program in the interim period" before Measure M can be implemented.

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