Marijuana Dispensary Ban in L.A. Could be Overturned by Voters: Signature Drive Ahead

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Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 2:01 PM

click to enlarge TORBEN HANSEN / FLICKR
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*Marijuana Dispensaries Banned in L.A. Per City Council Vote.

The pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access announced that it will launch a signature drive in an attempt to overturn the city of L.A.'s looming ban on cannabis shops.

The group made the promise late yesterday in a statement to the media. The City Clerk's office tells the Weekly the organization would need 27,425 valid signatures from registered voters by Sept. 21 to make the March 5 ballot; the next deadline is Dec. 7 for the May 21 mayoral election.

There are a lot of what ifs in this scenario, however:

ASA spokes Kris Hermes tells us they're going to wait for the City Council ordinance to become law before it makes a move: The council, which voted 14-0 to enact the ban, still has to confirm its vote in a week, the mayor has to sign the law, and it has to be "published" for the public to soak it in. This could take a few months.

However, the group does appear to have the resources to gather that many signatures in a short amount of time. Hermes:

We file a referendum, then gather signatures, just under 31,000 signatures. That doesn't sound too tough.

If it's successful, the City Council would either have to repeal the ban or let the voters decide.

There are other options that could still save dispensaries in L.A. One, Hermes notes, is taking City Hall to court to challenge the ban.

There is the option of litigation against the city for its completely inadequate and ill-advised ordinance that it did pass. There is the possibility we could take legal action. We're just reviewing our options at the moment.

One other possibility: The council yesterday also approved an alternative proposal, which needs some vetting, that would allow 182 pot shops that existed before a 2007 city moratorium on dispensaries to continue operating under stricter rules. Hermes:

We're strongly in favor of a proposal that would regulate a certain number of dispensaries in the city.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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