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Marijuana Shops Might Sue to Stay Open in L.A.

Marijuana Shops Might Sue to Stay Open in L.A.
Susan Slade Photography for L.A. Weekly

Measure D. a law that would close nine out of 10 marijuana dispensaries in town, maybe more, was passed by you, the voter, last night.

But that doesn't mean it's over for hundreds or perhaps even 1,000 or more pot shops in Los Angeles that would have to close their doors under the ordinance. Backers of a competing measure (Ordinance F), which would have allowed many if not most of those cannabis stores to stay open, albeit with some new regulations and taxes, say they'll sue to survive:

David Welch, an attorney for the failed Ordinance F, tells the Weekly that its backers are keeping all options open, including a possible lawsuit.

Measure D would protect as many as 135 dispensaries that existed and registered with the city before an September 2007 "moratorium" seeking to stop more shops from opening went into effect.

That moratorium was invalidated by a judge.

So the question is, according to Welch, why would it be used as a basis to close shops in Los Angeles when it was never legit in the first place?

"The issue," he says, "is whether using collectives registered in 2007 is reasonable to disallow operation of others. It's a violation of equal protection."

Another point: Last year those who wanted to protect dispensaries in L.A. from a total ban by the City Council brought enough signatures to City Hall to stop the closures. The City Council ultimately repealed its own ban. But the question here is whether yesterday's vote conflicts with the will of that referendum.

"That carries more weight than a City Council vote," says Welch, who notes that D was put on the ballot via a council vote.

Finally, there's nothing stopping supporters of nearly 1,000 or so shops in town from carrying out yet another referendum to overturn D. (The last one, mentioned above, collected almost double the number of signatures it needed.)

"We looked into it," Welch says. "It's possible."

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