If referendum qualifies, city council will be forced to either rescind its ordinance or call a special election
The medical marijuana dispensary ban in Los Angeles may be short-lived.
With plenty of time to spare, medical marijuana advocates on Wednesday filed more than 50,000 signatures in an effort to overturn a recently passed ban on dispensaries throughout the city. Despite a loud outcry from patient advocates, the Los Angeles City Council adopted an outright ban last month on medical marijuana distribution within the city limits.
The ban came after the city failed for more than four years to develop regulations suitable for providing medical marijuana to the tens of thousands of area patients.
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"Very soon, the city will be faced with having to rescind its ordinance or putting the decision before Los Angeles voters," said Don Duncan, California director with Americans for Safe Access
, a medical marijuana advocacy group. "Because of the ban's questionable future, the city ought to reconsider its tough stance on enforcing the ban."
The council recently voted to collaborate with federal agents and to fund an unprecedented enforcement effort aimed at shutting down hundreds of legally compliant facilities in the city.
After the dispensary ban was passed by the Los Angeles City Council on July 24, a group calling itself the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods with the help of PCI Consulting began gathering signatures to overturn it. The city now has up to 30 days to either rescind the ban or call a special election and put the decision to Los Angeles voters early next year.
Depending on timing, the city may be forced to hold a separate election in addition to the March primary and May mayoral election.
Prior to the July vote to ban dispensaries, ASA helped generate more than 10,000 letters urging the council to adopt sensible regulations rather than a complete ban. The city had made weak attempts to develop regulations over the past few years, but the resulting ordinance was so flawed that it was challenged by dozens of lawsuits.
Notably, more than 50 municipalities in California have adopted dispensary regulations, which in almost all cases bring a significant economic benefit and lower rates of crime in surrounding neighborhoods.
Wednesday's filing also came a week after the California Supreme Court dismissed as moot Pack v. City of Long Beach, the decision on which the Los Angeles ban was predicated. "Given the recent dismissal of the Pack decision by the California Supreme Court, the ban has absolutely no basis," Duncan said. "The city should be figuring out ways to work with patients instead of shutting the door on them without any viable reason other than sheer contempt."
On the same day the city council adopted the ban on dispensaries, it also voted to task the city attorney with drafting an ordinance to regulate a certain number of facilities. Patient advocates have consistently supported sensible regulatory proposals similar to one recommended by Council member Paul Koretz and Council President Herb Wesson, which would begin to address the needs of thousands of qualified patients in the city.
What: Coalition press conference on filing referendum signatures to overturn Los Angeles dispensary ban
When: Wednesday, August 29th at 12 Noon
Where: Room Terrace D at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, 333 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608
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