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Advocates turn in signatures to overturn LA dispensary ban by referendum

By William Dolphin and Kris Hermes,  AmericansforSafeAccess.org

Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously July 24, 2012 to ban the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries in California’s largest city. The city of almost 4 million people currently has 762 registered dispensaries.

City attorney Jane Usher said the ordinance complies with the LA County v AMCC Collective appellate court ruling because it allows groups of three or fewer patients to grow collectively. It also happens to close down all the storefront dispensaries and, possibly, delivery services as “medical marijuana businesses.”

The council at the same time voted 9-5 to direct the city attorney’s office to draft an ordinance to allow the continued operation of 182 dispensaries that had registered with the city when the regulatory process began in 2007. In the meantime, the total ban will require all city collectives to shut their doors by Sept. 6. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he supports a ban.

When it became apparent that many dispensaries would fight back, Council­man Bernard Parks announced Aug. 22 he was asking the LA Police Dept. to coordinate with the county district attorney and federal DEA on an enforcement policy.

The ban passed despite more than 10,000 letters the council received from cannabis patients and supporters urging the adoption of sensible regulations. Americans for Safe Access and others then gathered signatures to place a referendum before LA voters to reverse the ban.

“After four years of hearing from patients who rely on medical cannabis to ease their suffering, it is outrageous that the city council would decide to simply outlaw its distribution,” said ASA’s state director, Don Duncan. “The tens of thousands of Angelenos harmed by this ban will not take it sitting down. We will campaign forcefully to overturn this decision.”

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