In a surprisingly contentious election recently, several medical marijuana dispensaries reportedly offered free weed to individuals who voted in a race for seats on the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles.
The neighborhood council is a non-official group that operates purely on a volunteer basis, but according to The Los Angeles Times, council members recently found themselves at the epicenter of the city’s struggle over marijuana dispensaries due to the high concentration of pot shops in the area.
Though the council does not have any official powers, they make recommendations to the city council on what local issues are and how residents would like to deal with them. And when they started sounding community alarms about 15 dispensaries in the area allegedly “operating illegally,” the fight was on.
Pot purveyors in the neighborhood took exception to the council’s endorsement of a city-wide ban on dispensaries and targeted several council members for removal in an election held last weekend. That objection took the shape of a candidate slate called “Progress & Collaboration,” which whipped up attention in the neighborhood and attracted a record number of votes during Saturday’s election.
Amid the campaign, the Times noted that some of the dispensaries passed out flyers offering free weed to people who voted, but they stopped short of saying who to vote for. After nearly 800 votes were counted — with more than 300 coming from people who don’t live in Eagle Rock — only two of the pot-backers won, even in spite of an endorsement by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents dozens of dispensary workers.
The Los Angeles City Council recently approved a city-wide ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, but later repealed the ban after dispensary owners successfully raised a ballot initiative that would have reset the council’s ban. They’ve instead asked the California legislature to pass a bill clarifying what limits cities and counties can place on the shops.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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