Medical marijuana has been legal in California for 16 years, but a few weeks ago the Los Angeles city council voted to ban marijuana dispensaries from the city, citing that too many existed.
The ban still allowed patients to group together and grow marijuana in their homes, but many patients said they don’t have the time or resources to grow medical-grade cannabis.
It took less than two weeks for patients and activists to turn in enough signatures to repeal the ban and force a referendum to let the voters decide. They needed 27,425 signatures and they turned in over 50,000.
The LA Times pointed out that activists admit they’re using this tactic to try to get the council to compromise for a more lenient ban that grandfathers in existing dispensaries:
Members of both groups admit that they are using the referendum as a political tactic to force lawmakers to overturn the ban and adopt a more lenient ordinance that would allow the pre-moratorium dispensaries to remain open.
According to local laws, the city council’s ban which was set to take effect next week must be suspended until the petition is confirmed and then put to the voters in the form of a referendum.
However, the council said they intend to violate procedure and impose the ban anyway. In fact, members of the council contacted the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seeking assistance in the their effort close the shops.
According to the Huffington Post:
Despite the petition, the City Council is moving forward with its plan to shut down the dispensaries. Last week, council members voted to ask the Drug Enforcement Agency for assistance in the operation.
It will be interesting to see if the Obama Administration will intervene in such a local issue and squash the will of the voters during an election season.