Is Santa Ana Council doomed to repeat the mistakes of Los Angeles’ Measure D?


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Two years ago, Los Angeles’ City Council drafted Measure D, which trounced two competing citizens’ initiatives to regulate the medical marijuana market in Los Angeles. Many assume that Measure D was an extremely restrictive knee-jerk reaction to what the council felt would be an overly permissive medical ordinance. Those who closely examined all three ordinances discovered that Measure D would create an unenforceable coercive monopoly, as opposed to the seemingly less restrictive but more empowering citizen created alternatives. The voters assumed that the City would be able to enforce its incredibly restrictive ordinance and have become increasingly disappointed as they realize that absolutely nothing has changed in LA. Hindsight is 20/20.

What happened?

LA’s ordinance did not allow for the operation of enough collectives in the city to meet the needs of the patient population. As a result, the market supported the continuing operation of non-Measure D compliant facilities.  Those who qualified for a collective in LA and continued to try to cooperate with Measure D’s restrictions have found themselves burdened with costs and difficulties that destroy their ability to serve patients, while those collectives who skirt the requirements simply operate outside the law without paying any of the associated costs.

Nothing has changed, with the exception that those who were willing to comply were damaged beyond repair, while a few larger collectives who could pay to participate in a coercive monopoly failed to see the fruits of their scandalous behavior, and have began to beg for enforcement from a city that does not have the funds to shut down 900 supposedly illegal collectives.

As above, so below.

Just as happened in Los Angeles, Santa Ana’s Measure BB will benefit no one but Big Business. Real estate companies have been going on an all-out land grab in areas of the city that would qualify for collectives under either measure. Council members have gotten some surprisingly impressive donations from real estate holding companies who happen to possess land in these qualified areas. Some voters may vote for BB in hopes of controlling the medical marijuana collectives, but were the ordinance to pass, which it won’t, the result would be the same sad mess that has been occurring in Los Angeles, a mess that was completely motivated by the greed of council members, real estate companies and renegade collectives that do not respect the medical necessity of this issue.

There ARE good collective owners in this fight. These people fight corruption, fight for the rights of their patients and put their patients’ rights before profit. These activists combat outright greed and intimidation, even when they must face the long arm of the law. They are activists to the bone, and they are now putting their futures and their patient’s futures in the hands of the voters in 17 different cities.

I personally believe that the voters are more intelligent and savvy than the powers that be give them credit for.

In the case of Santa Ana, I know that the voters can pick up on the subtle fact that some people have been making donations to council members and buying property in hopes of turning this city into a new “red light” subdivision of their failed attempted monopoly in Los Angeles. They are doing this while saying that they are attempting to restrict and control medical marijuana activity to protect the community. They are doing this for the same reasons they did it in Los Angeles, to create a coercive monopoly in what should not be a “market” in the first place.

A friend recently told me that you can’t control greed. It’s true, we can’t, but we can account for it when drafting an ordinance, if we’re far-seeing enough to actually understand the market. 

  • Measure CC was written by an activist who has worked in the medical marijuana community for over ten years.  This activist understood that the only enforceable ordinance is one that allows the patients and the community to live together, without putting undue restrictions on either.
  • It was drafted by a group of lawyers that specialize in medical marijuana policy, a group that researched the acceptable locations and zoned it in order to allow enough collectives to serve the community quietly, without restricting access to the point that it creates marijuana supercenter that could become a public nuisance or red light district.
  • It was qualified by passionate marijuana rights activists who want to protect the rights of the patients and the community.
  • It was signed by the people of the city that understand what is actually happening on the ground here in Santa Ana and want to see real change, not corporate real estate land grabs, dirty political donations upwards of $20,000, and a completely uncontrollable legal backlash caused by overreaching and greed.

The people of the city understand that the only ordinance that will work for Santa Ana is one that is actually enforceable while still providing compassionate care to those who need it most. I urge those of you who are still on the fence, or even perhaps considering skipping the polls this year, to vote Yes on Measure CC on November 4th. I urge the voters to tell the City that Measure CC is the citizen’s choice, and the will of those who are not angling to profit from patients’ pain. This is the will of those who simply want a safer Santa Ana today.


About Debbie Tharp