Whew. You can exhale now. Marijuana advocates who want you to be able to vote on overturning L.A.'s weed dispensary ban turned in their signatures this morning.
While they had yet to be verified, our understanding of the situation, seconded this morning by the L.A. City Attorney's office, is that Los Angeles' controversial prohibition on retail pot shops is now officially on hold unless the signatures or proper paperwork were deficient.
Organizers turned in ...
... 49,020 signatures at about 9:30 a.m., a City Clerk's official told the Weekly.
They only needed 27,425 registered L.A. city voters to support putting the matter on the ballot. The ban was scheduled to take effect Wednesday.
Looks like that's not going to happen.
As long as their paperwork was in order and the number of signatures seems reasonable, the ordinance will be halted today, according to the City Attorney's office.
A City Clerk's official who could verify that the paperwork was straight wasn't available when we called.
Once the signatures are fully verified, which could take days, the City Council will have 30 days to either overturn the ban themselves or put the matter before voters as soon as possible.
L.A. city Councilman Jose Huizar last night harshed your mellow, however, by warning that even without the ban the city could close shops because, he says, they violate state law by profiting from retail weed sales.
Consider this: In parts of the San Fernando Valley police have been doing just that -- busting dispensaries simply because they have pot for sale.
We shall see.
[Update at 2:10 p.m.]: A top City Clerk's official confirms that the ban has been suspended and the signatures were given "conditional acceptance."
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The next move is to have the City Clerk's office count the number of signatures and use statistical sampling to verify that they're good or bad. They have 15 days to do that. (If the sampling turns up too many bad signatures, but enough good ones to indicate supporters still might have enough of them, then they have 30 days to go through each signature).
Then the referendum heads to the City Council, which can either overturn its own ban or put the matter before voters on the first possible election date. We believe the council has 30 days to make that move.
In the meantime legit dispensaries are free to operate. Sort of. (See Councilman Jose Huizar's comments, above).