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Medical marijuana activists trying to keep LA dispensaries open

August 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is new hope for medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles facing a deadline to shut down. Supporters will file a petition on Wednesday to force a referendum on the City Council's recent ordinance banning pot shops.

Activists hope their petition will keep dispensary doors open. In the last 30 days, supporters and patients of medical marijuana have collected 50,000 signatures - which is well over the 27,000 signatures required to put the issues on a ballot with a goal of overturning the City Council's ban on dispensaries.

In July, the City Council voted to ban storefront dispensaries on the basis of conflicting court opinions about whether the city can legally regulate pot collectives. The ban, which is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 6, would affect more than 1,000 dispensary locations. If collectives fail to comply, they face a $2,500 fine for every day they remain open after that deadline.

The ban, however, does allow licensed patients or caregivers to grow and transport their own medical marijuana.

Those behind the petition say they do want a strict regulatory system in place to ensure safe access for patients and a nuisance-free process for neighborhoods. However, they say the ban goes too far and hurts patients and eliminates dispensaries playing by the rules.

Despite the petition, the City Council is moving forward with plans to enforce the ban. They are even considering a motion on whether to use city attorneys who have been allocated for the Community Redevelopment Agency on legal proceedings pertaining to the ordinance. Last week, they voted to allow the Los Angeles Police Department to ask federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency for help to create a strategic enforcement plan.


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