L.A. Pot Ban: Suspension Effort Has Enough Signatures

Marijuana advocates have gathered enough signatures to establish a March ballot measure to repeal city council’s recent ban on marijuana dispensaries in L.A. signature.jpg

Los Angeles marijuana attorneys understand that this effectively puts the city’s ban on hold, pending next year’s election.

Of course, it is dependent on the verification of signatures, but this is extremely likely, given that advocates only needed to collect about 27,500 – and ended up collecting more than 50,000.

This is a major victory for medical marijuana dispensaries, advocates and patients in that it allows them a reprieve from arrest or civil sanctions (at least at the local level) before the issue is put to a public vote.

The ban, which was enacted last month, was part of an effort to effectively shut down some 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the city. The city council’s decision did allow for groups of three or fewer prescription-carrying patients to grow their own pot, which was dubbed a “gentle ban.” The problem with this is that cultivation of marijuana is an extensive and time-consuming process. If you’re very ill, as many marijuana patients are, it’s not an endeavor in which you’re likely to be successful.

Some advocates stated that they understood the need for some regulation, but the implementation of an outright ban not only defies state law, it inhibits patients’ rights.

The city clerk’s office will have 15 days to verify the signatures. If they are verified, the city council has another 20 days to decide whether they want to repeal the ban, or go ahead with placing the measure on the March 5 ballot.

Still, the clerk’s office has issued a statement saying that the signatures have been granted “conditional acceptance,” meaning that the ban is suspended, unless more than half of the signatures are deemed invalid – a highly unlikely scenario.

Most hope that the council will simply repeal the ban, given that 13 percent of the city’s population signed a measure just to get it on the ballot.

The ban was to officially go into effect on September 6.

City attorneys had issued notices to pot dispensaries throughout the area, indicating they had to shut down or face harsh daily fines and possible criminal penalties. Now, they are free to operate, although at least one city councilman has gone on record as saying that shops that profit from retail marijuana sales are still violating state law.

While the ban has been backed by the police chief and others, the referendum has been supported by a number of patients and advocacy groups, including the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, which consists of dispensary operators who registered with the city before the 2007 moratorium was enacted, as well as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 770, which began unionizing dispensary workers earlier this year.

In addition to this, at least two lawsuits have now been filed, one of those by Damian Nassiri of The Cannabis Law Group, challenging the ban.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Bid to repeal L.A.’s ban on pot shops may be headed for ballot, By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

More Blog Entries:
Riverside Judge: Marijuana Ban is Unconstitutional, August 23, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog