On May 21, 2013, Los Angeles voters passed Proposition D, a city ordinance designed to combat negative effects associated with the unregulated growth of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. Proposition D limits the number of medical marijuana dispensaries permitted to operate in the city to 135 and requires that the permitted dispensaries comply with certain regulations. Since Proposition D the Los Angeles City Attorney has shut down more than 800 unlawful medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the city.

On March 7, 2017, voters passed Proposition M, which affirmed the City Council’s power to change or replace Proposition D. However, any changes made to the current Los Angeles marijuana policies will not take effect until January of 2018. This means that, as this article was updated in May 2017, Proposition D remains the current effective policy.

Which Dispensaries Are Permitted to Operate Under Proposition D?

A very narrow group of dispensaries are permitted to operate under Proposition D. In order to operate, the dispensaries must have met all Los Angeles medical marijuana registration requirements dating back to 2007 and must remain in current compliance with new proposition D regulations. In essence, this limits dispensaries to those that were established prior to 2007 and have been compliant with all regulations to the present date.

What Are the Proposition D Regulations?

Overall, there are two important aspects of Proposition D's regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries. It's important that all affected dispensaries follow the requirements of Proposition D's regulations, as they are outlined below:

Timely Registration

First, as mentioned, all medical marijuana dispensaries must have complied with the City’s previous registration and regulation requirements dating back to 2007. Here, medical marijuana dispensaries must have been timely registered with the City Clerk under the following Los Angeles ordinances:

  • 2007 Interim Control Ordinance
  • 2010 Medical Marijuana Ordinance
  • 2011 or 2012 Measure M, regarding Taxation of Medical Marijuana

Operation and Location Regulations

In addition, all medical marijuana dispensaries must remain in compliance with the following regulations:

  • Pay all tax obligations to the City.
  • Operate only between 10 am to 8 pm.
  • Prohibit consumption of marijuana or alcohol on the premises.
  • Refuse to allow unaccompanied minors to enter.
  • Provide no outside lighting of the shop when closed, except to provide for security of the shop and the public.
  • Maintain no public entrance facing or sharing a corner with residentially zoned land, unless there is sufficient distance.
  • Register the names of all managers to the City Clerk, and each manager must pass an annual finger print check by January 31st of each year.
  • Managers must not manage another medical marijuana business.
  • No marijuana dispensary is allowed within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • No marijuana dispensary is allowed within a 600-foot radius of a public park, library, religious institution, child care facility, youth center, alcoholism, drug abuse recovery or treatment facility, or another medical marijuana business.
  • Any medical marijuana dispensary that fails to comply with all regulations is prohibited to operate and may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

The full text of proposition D may be found on the Los Angeles City Attorney website.

What Are the Civil and Criminal Penalties for Non-Compliance?

There are two types of penalties a dispensary can face for non-compliance:

  • Criminal Misdemeanors: First, violation of any of the listed regulations or requirements is considered a misdemeanor. Violators may be subject to up to a $1,000 fine and 6 months imprisonment for each day they are in violation of any offense.
  • Civil Public Nuisance: In addition, non-compliant dispensaries may be subject to civil public nuisances law suits where they may be liable for up to $2,500 a day for their nuisance activity.

Who Is Liable for a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Offense?

In addition to the owners and operators of medical marijuana dispensaries, other individuals who permit or assist the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries may also be subject to civil and criminal penalties for Prop D violations.

These individuals include all medical marijuana dispensary:

  • Employees
  • Contractors
  • Agents
  • Volunteers
  • Landlords
  • Mortgage and lending institutions

What If I Have a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Issue?

If you own, operate, or are associated with a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney to ensure you are in compliance with city and state laws.