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Union gathers signatures to get medical marijuana regulation on the ballot

Los Angeles City Council Votes To Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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UFCW Local 770 is gathering signatures in hopes of getting a new medical marijuana ordinance on the May 2013 ballot. That would allow about 100 clinics to remain open in Los Angeles.

The regulation of medical marijuana is back — again — as a local union collects signatures to get an ordinance on the city of Los Angeles’ May 2013 ballot.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 submitted an ordinance to the City Clerk’s Office that would allow small groups of no more than five patients and caregivers to grow medicinal cannabis together. About 100 clinics that opened and registered with the city prior to Sept. 14, 2007 would be exempted from regulation. Clinics would have to pass annual LAPD background checks and maintain their distance from schools and parks.

The UFCW will have to collect 41,138 valid signatures by Dec. 7 to get the ordinance on the city’s May 2013 ballot.

It was just a month ago that the Los Angeles City Council repealed a ban on medical marijuana clinics after organizers gathered enough signatures for a referendum on the ordinance. That ban would have allowed groups of no more than three patients to get together and grow their own marijuana. 

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Referendum on medical marijuana ban qualifies for ballot (updated)

Medical Marijuana

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Advocates for medical marijuana collected enough valid signatures to qualify a referendum petition on the city's pot shop ban, according to the City Clerk's Office.

Advocates who support the medicinal use of marijuana submitted enough valid signatures to force a referendum on the City of L.A.'s ban on dispensaries, the City Clerk’s office announced Monday.  

The city’s ban on pot shops was to have taken effect Sept. 6. However, it was halted when cannabis supporters turned in more than 49,000 signatures to overturn the ban. The City Clerk’s office, through a random sampling, found there are enough valid signatures to meet the minimum requirement for a referendum. That means the city’s ban cannot take effect until one of three things happens: 

  • The Los Angeles City Council repeals the ordinance; or
  • A special election is held in the next 110 to 140 days; or
  • The ordinance is placed on the March 5, 2013 ballot and voted on by Angelenos. 

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City of LA will not go after pot shops — yet

Los Angeles City Council Votes To Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

David McNew/Getty Images

Reed Moran smells a variety of marijuana shown to him by President and CEO Sam Humeid (L) of the Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary, which opened in 2006, on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California

Owners and patients of Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries can exhale a sigh of relief as the city of L.A. won't be enforcing a scheduled ban on the facilities any time soon.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich posted a statement on the city's web site Thursday explaining that officials will hold off on shuttering hundreds of L.A. dispensaries while they verify the approximately 50,000 signatures that have been gathered for a referendum petition.

"Notwithstanding the stay on enforcement of [the ban], the business of medical marijuana continues to be an unpermitted land use in the City," Trutanich wrote.

"Further, as stated on all City business tax registration certificates, a tax registration certificate does not constitute a license, permit, or land use approval; it is solely a tax collection document. Interested parties should contact their own attorneys, as applicable City and state laws will continue to be enforced by the City Attorney's Office, as well as other law enforcement and regulatory agencies," he wrote.

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LAPD serves warrants on San Fernando Valley pot shop, arrests owner

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Photo by Alexodus via Flickr Creative Commons

Los Angeles' dispensary ban takes effect August 31.

The very same day L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the city's new medical marijuana dispensary ban into law, LAPD officers arrested the owner of a San Fernando Valley pot shop.

The two events were apparently unrelated: detectives had apparently been investigating West Valley Caregivers for some time, and allege the dispensary was operating not as a caregiver, but outside of California's law allowing medicinal sales of the drug. 

However, raids may become commonplace very soon. L.A.'s ban goes into effect on August 31. 

LAPD Commander Andrew Smith couldn't provide details, but said the department is working out the details of how the law will be enforced.

"When we do it, we certainly won’t talk about it beforehand," Smith said. "People will have been given warnings. Everyone will know they’re acting outside the boundaries of the law and then we’ll shut them down."

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State Appeals Court: LA County ban on medical marijuana dispensaries against state law

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Photo by Dank Depot via Flickr Creative Commons

A three judge panel at California's Second District Court of Appeals ruled Monday that L.A. County's blanket ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas is "preempted" by state law, which calls for the drug to be made available to those who need it for a legitimate medical purpose. 

While cities and counties have the ability to regulate and restrict marijuana dispensaries, they can't simply ban them outright, the justices ruled. 

Justice Robert Mallano wrote the unanimous decision for the court, which now throws the Los Angeles City Council's plan to consider a citywide dispensary ban on July 24 into question. 

 

 

Pot Ban Decision

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