Today’s News: Decision opens new chapter in pot wars

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Pot shots. Now that the state Supreme Court has upheld the right of cities and counties to ban pot shop shops – what’s next for medical marijuana in California? And what about the three medical pot initiatives that will be on the Los Angeles city ballot two weeks from now?

The court’s unanimous decision means that a 1996 California ballot measure approving medical marijuana notwithstanding, municipalities can use zoning and land use laws to keep marijuana dispensaries out. That upholds bans in more than 200 cities in the state.

“It doesn’t mean all the pot shops are going away but it does mean that the localities that want them to go away can now outlaw them,” Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson told KCRW. She says backers of medical pot are expected to turn the state Legislature for clearer regulatory guidelines, or go back to the state initiative process. “I don’t think people are just going to sit back and say ‘Well, the California Legislature has spoken so that’s that,’” she said.

In Los Angeles, medical marijuana dispensaries are legal, though the city has struggled mightily to regulate them. The three competing initiatives on the L.A. city ballot two weeks from today seek to try to add some clarity to the situation. That includes setting rules for where the shops can operate, and how many can do business in the city. Which Way, L.A.?

KCRW debate. Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are using what time is left before May 21st to try to win over the hearts, minds and votes of undecided Angelenos. Today, KCRW and Zocalo Public Square are sponsoring a special “Which Way L.A.?” debate at the Petersen Automitve Museum focused on public education. You can listen on KCRW live at 2 p.m., and we’ll rebroadcast it at 7:00 p.m. The debate will be moderated by KCRW’s Warren Olney. KCRW

Keeping tabs. Two privacy rights groups have sued the LAPD and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, to force the agencies to provide more information about their use of automated license plate readers. L.A. Times

USC fracas. The LAPD will conduct an internal investigation of its response to an off-campus party near USC that resulted in the arrests of half a dozen students. Some of the partygoers are claiming racial bias. They say police tactics created chaos and were unnecessarily brutal. KNBC

Zoo moves. A volunteer organization is now in charge of marketing at the L.A. Zoo. The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association – or GLAZA – has promised to spend $2 million a year promoting the zoo. The group’s spending will also allow a scheduled $2 ticket price increase this summer to be reduced to $1. L.A. Daily News

Baseball bummer. The baseball season isn’t going so well for the locals. The Dodgers loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks last night was the team’s fifth straight defeat – and it dropped them into last place in the National League West. The Los Angeles of Anaheim, meanwhile, are off to the worst start in franchise history. L.A. Times, Sports Illustrated