While ganjapreneurs were meeting in Sacramento at the California Cannabis Industries Association on March 7, new marijuana regulations were being approved in the City of Los Angeles as voters passed Measure M with a staggering 79.36 percent “yes” vote.  The measure garnered 49,964 “no” votes for 20.64 percent and 192,054 voters passing the measure, according to the L..County Registrar’s Office.

The LA medical marijuana market alone is estimated at nearly $1B, easily overshadowing Colorado’s medical and adult-use market.  For California’s workers, the measure will likely create thousands of more good paying jobs, which pay on average more than $20/hour — or nearly double California’s minimum wage and a whopping 65% higher than the national average — while also holding those businesses accountable to the neighborhoods and communities where they operate.

The decisive vote came amid a federal threat to crack down on cannabis and cleared up feuding initiatives put on the ballot by two groups seeking to regulate the marijuana supply but having different political agendas.

By the next morning, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, a long-time supporter of keeping marijuana illegal and the supply chain in the hands of the illicit market, was already stoking fears that the federal government would target the city for its adoption of the policy. His office has a reputation for opposing most criminal justice reforms.

Two plans vied for votes

This election outcome means that — almost 21 years after voters asked for medical marijuana regulations in Proposition 215, 14 years after the legislature paved the way for local controls through SB 420 and a year after the legislature adopted its dual licensing scheme — the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, the state’s largest city will finally regulate the pot business in the sprawling city, comprising around 1,000 retail shops along with cultivators, delivery services, testing labs, edibles bakers and concentrate makers operating in the city.

Measure M and Measure N — both on the city’s March ballot — sought to allow city officials to license cannabusinesses for the first time, impose new taxes and toughen ordinance penalties against illicit shops. Proposition 64 authorized adult use or “recreational” marijuana sales could be in place as soon as 2019, and the city has authority to allow such sales in the meantime.

The unsuccessful Measure N, drafted by a cannabis trade group, made the ballot first. Measure N had favored the existing shops while laying out detailed regulations for where and how businesses could operate, which prompted the city to put Measure M on the ballot. Measure N garnered only 36.25 percent support among voters.

Industry support gave a big boost

The Southern California Coalition (SCC), the largest, most inclusive cannabis industry trade organization in Southern California and the California Growers Association’s (CGA) both had endorsed Measure M ballot initiative. They agreed that M would create a “sensible path forward” to  license, permit and regulate each sector of the industry, including cultivators, to provide cannabis in a safe, professional and sustainable way that would remove overly burdensome barriers that restrict legitimate cultivators from the market.

“We couldn’t be happier to have California Growers Association’s support of this truly game-changing approach to regulating state-legal cannabis,” said Erik Hultstrom, Southern California co-founder and president of the Cultivators Alliance.

“Prop M will help prevent bad actors and big business from putting profits ahead of safety and our communities. The initiative helps fixes the licensing, taxation, and regulation of legitimate players while giving City Council and the LAPD the authority it needs to crack down on industry imposters, who harm local businesses and our communities. We look forward to joining forces with more industry leaders like CGA as we continue to work to implement best practices that are safe, professional and sustainable.”

“Proposition M will result in effective and fair regulations,” said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association. “The measure not only protects the public safety by requiring all businesses to comply with regulations, but also protects against monopolization in the world’s largest cannabis market. As the cannabis industry grows and evolves, Cal Growers will continue to work with other pioneers like Southern California Coalition that are committed to seeing more inclusive, responsible, and sustainable approach to legalization implemented throughout California and the country.”

Legalization of cannabis generates valuable economic activity for small business owners like cultivators, and creates tens of thousands of full-time jobs for workers across the state of California. In fact, according to Arcview Market Research, the state’s new adult-use industry has a projected value of $7B and state and local governments could eventually collect $1B a year in taxes—assuming licensing,  taxation and regulations are fairly implemented.

Overturns previous Measure D plan

By replacing the unpopular Los Angeles Proposition D — a measure adopted in 2013 aimed at limiting the number of dispensaries in the city — Proposition M will enable the Los Angels City Council to address important issues facing the cannabis industry such as licensing across all cannabis industry categories (cultivators, dispensaries, transportation, others) while giving communities a say in what happens in their neighborhoods regarding zoning, the location of stores, the number of shops in an area, store hours, and how products will be marketed and advertised.

“For months, SCC worked to create a regulatory framework for licensing, taxation and regulation that will allow a healthy marketplace succeed,” said Hultstrom. “We will continue to aggressively and collaboratively work with our leadership, members, and third-party partner organizations to ensure Angelenos say ‘yes’ to Proposition M on Election Day. We encourage all registered voters to say yes to Prop M, and to make LA the continued world leader in sensible and sound approaches to legalization.”

Southern California Coalition is the largest, most inclusive cannabis industry trade organization representing stakeholders across all licensing categories, advocacy organizations, minority groups, veterans, communities and others in Southern California. Southern California Coalition’s mission is to ensure comprehensive marijuana policies are implemented in an inclusive and responsible way in the world’s largest state-legal cannabis market, Southern California.