Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich could not hold off his opponent Mike Feuer in Tuesday’s City Attorney election.

Former Assemblyman Feuer received 44 percent of the vote while Trutanich had only 30 percent with all precincts reporting.

However, because neither reached a majority, the two will face each other again in a May 21 runoff election.

Trutanich is an important – and often underreported – figure behind the LA medical marijuana dispensary debacle. Since assuming office in 2009 Trutanich has worked behind the scenes to influence the City Council, convincing councilmembers to stop working in conjunction with dispensary advocates on a potential ordinance.

Additionally, Trutanich is said to have been a major force behind the Council’s 2012 dispensary ban. He also previously attempted to prevent dispensaries from being able to accept cash.

The City Council’s struggles to regulate medical pot dispensaries in Los Angeles have been well documented. Some of the Council’s lowlights include the failed dispensary moratorium of 2007, the failed dispensary cap of 2009, and of course, the failed dispensary ban of 2012 (which lasted a total of three months).

Because the dispensary ban was rescinded, and the city continues to operate without an active ordinance, the issue will now go before the voters of LA.

In May, Los Angelenos will have three ballot measures aimed at regulating dispensaries to choose from. Two come from dispensary advocates and the third from the City Council. The Council’s measure would allow only the pre-2007 moratorium dispensaries to remain open. It would also raise the tax on pot sales and set legally required distances between dispensaries and schools and churches. While less than ideal, some view the Council’s initiative as a realistic compromise.

Prior to Tuesday’s City Attorney election, Trutanich threw his support behind the Council’s dispensary regulation measure (which is now also backed by several pot advocacy groups including the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance and Americans for Safe Access LA).

Nonetheless, Trutanich’s sudden display of compromise with dispensaries may have been too little, too late. At the very least, it didn’t hold off his opponent in the race for LA City Attorney... for now anyway. 

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