Medical Marijuana Supporters in Los Angeles Seek to Overturn Dispensary Ban
Signature-gathers have spread throughout Los Angeles in recent weeks in an attempt to repeal a recent ban on marijuana dispensaries passed by the city council. If they can collect the roughly 27,400 names required within the next three weeks, a referendum to overturn the ban would go before voters in March, 2013.
If the repeal measure does make the ballot, it will share the slate with a mayoral primary race.
Looking to increase their influence in recent months, dispensary owners have coordinated contributions of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of some city council members, and a labor union made up of dispensary workers has held vocal rallies outside of City Hall.
The measure itself seeks a suspension of the ordinance banning dispensaries, knocking the city council back to square one on the issue.
"Relief is on its way," City Councilman Jose Huizar promised residents when the ban was passed, but relief from what? Overemployment? Too much medicine? Too many sick people finding alternate and safer ways of healing?
Some dispensary owners have said they will keep their doors open, even as the city has begun notifying them that they must shut down by September 6th. In a letter mailed last week, city lawyers warned dispensary operators that they risk jail time and fines of up to $2,500 a day if they fail to comply with the ban.
The current ban on dispensaries still allows patients to grow their own and groups of three or less are allowed to grow cannabis and share it within the group.
On Friday a lawsuit was filed against the city by a medical marijuana trade association that represents patients, dispensaries and growers.
Marc O'Hara - director of the Patient Care Alliance - said the dispensary ban is "heartless" and denies patients their right to assemble.
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