As a cancer patient who relies on medical marijuana to survive, I have been through the ups and downs of the medical marijuana industry in the city, just like all other patients in the city. After the ban was finally repealed last fall, we worked hard to design a compromise that will allow some of the city's dispensaries to stay open.
It's called Proposition D, and it's on the May 21 ballot. It is the solution we all have been looking for, and here's why:
First, it will limit the number of dispensaries allowed in the city. While dispensaries have proliferated in many parts of the city, some neighborhoods, such as Venice, have seen more than their fair share of dispensaries, causing neighbors to feel overwhelmed. Keeping dispensaries to a reasonable number will help keep neighborhoods safe for both patients and residents.
Second, Proposition D will help keep our children and families safe. Proposition D requires that dispensaries be no less than 1,000 feet from schools and 600 feet from parks, libraries and child care centers.
Third, it will raise additional city taxes. Proposition D raises additional revenue for vital city services by raising taxes on medical marijuana sales by 20 percent.
Prop D also sets reasonable operating hours of 10am to 8pm. Measure F, a competing measure on the ballot, allows dispensaries to stay open until 10pm, a late hour for some neighborhoods.
I am a patient, too
The passage of Proposition D is important to me because, as I said, I am a cancer patient who relies on medical marijuana to survive.
When my cancer spread to my lower back last year, my pain became so excruciating that even the strongest pain medicine wouldn't help. But I found that medical marijuana helped. I was lucky because it helped me get my life back.
Then the city banned it, and I, like many other patients in the city, were unable to obtain the medicine that was life sustaining for me. During hearings to repeal the ban, I asked them, "You want to kill me? Throw me under the bus?"
Luckily, after those hearings, two Westside pharmacies, Herbalcure and The Farmacy, developed a marijuana regimen that got rid of the pain. I now use a marijuana butter that I spread on bread, and also inhale marijuana through a vaporizer with a filter. Using both helps me with my pain, my appetite and my energy levels. It also enables me to work as a Councilmember again.
A plan that allows us to move forward
Under Proposition D, around 135 or so pharmacies could qualify for limited immunity from prosecution and remain open. These particular dispensaries qualified, since they were the ones that followed all of the rules that the city has imposed upon them since 2007. If they continue to follow those rules, they will be given limited immunity from prosecution by the city. This means that, although Federal law does not allow their operation, local law enforcement will.
The limited number of dispensaries helps law enforcement. Right now, the city is overwhelmed with monitoring the over 1,000 dispensaries in the city. The 135 will be a small enough number to enable the city's police to monitor and watch all of the dispensaries, but not too small so as not to be able to meet the needs of patient demand.
Most importantly, if Proposition D passes, patients can feel good knowing that whatever dispensary they visit in the city is safe, regulated and controlled by the city. They also can feel assured that their chosen dispensary will not be raided by local law enforcement, due to the "limited immunity" given to the dispensaries in Proposition D.
Proposition F, the competing measure which is being run by many of the illegal dispensaries across the city, would allow all of the current dispensaries, including those who have not followed the rule of law, to stay open. This would result in the status quo, with high numbers of dispensaries in certain neighborhoods, creating an unsafe environment for the people who live there.
We don't need the status quo. We need to move forward with a compromise that works. I believe Proposition D does just that. Please vote for Proposition D on May 21. It is the right answer for Los Angeles.