Despite California being the first state in the union to permit pot use due in the landmark 1996 medical marijuana initiative, the weed industry is stilled mired in controversy as the maze of state and Federal laws continue to contradict each other.
The proliferation of weed card holders and pot vendors in the San Fernando Valley has opened up a hotbed of debate and argument. Pro-weed lobbyists argue licenses are removing the criminal element and stigma, and that pot is a healthy alternative to alcohol. Anti-pot lobbyists claim licenses are obtained too easily by those not genuinely in need of medicinal marijuana.
A volley of proposed and passed laws and bills have complicated the situation while over a third of the US population have legalized the use of marijuana when recommended by a physician.
Flying in the face of LA’s seemingly liberalist approach to weed, numerous dispensaries in the SFV have been forced to close. City Hall acted against many dispensaries when voters passed Measure D, a May ballot initiative that only allows 135 or fewer older pot shops in LA. The count far less than the current number of cannabis retailers in Los Angeles, which is thought to be in excess of 1,000. About 40 shut down voluntarily after being issued warnings or as a result of community complaints and "nuisance" issues. In cases where both the operators of the stores and the landowners could be located, both were being targeted with criminal filings from City Hall, according to the City Attorney's office.
Yet some progress ensued on October18, when Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom teaming up with the ACLU to chair a blue-ribbon panel that will study the "complex legal and policy issues" of legalization. The panel, which will be made up of lawyers, researchers and policy experts, will analyze legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis, according to the ACLU.
Newsome commented, “Enough's enough. Results are overwhelming that what we are doing on regulating marijuana is failing. It's time to properly tax and regulate the industry. I'm honored to be a part of a Blue Ribbon Panel to explore tax and regulation of marijuana."
There’s also the possibility Californians will get to vote on the legalization issue next year (November 4). This is possible due to "The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014," which has made a request to the state Initiative coordinator for permission to circulate a petition. Which means if organizers gather enough signatures, Californian’s will have another shot at legalization.