A referendum to repeal a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles appears to be headed for the ballot, with pot shop supporters saying they have collected nearly twice the signatures required to force a citywide vote and key City Council members signaling that they won’t try to stop it, reports the Los Angeles Times. Medical cannabis supporters plan to turn in the names of 50,000 voters who want the referendum included on the March ballot. If the signatures prove valid, officials will be required to suspend the ban, which was approved with much fanfare last month and was due to go into effect Sept. 6.
If that happens, the city will be back without any law regulating the distribution of the drug. The referendum effort is being backed by patients and several groups, including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 770, which started unionizing dispensary workers earlier this year, and the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, an association of dispensary operators who registered with the city before a moratorium on new pot shops was enacted in 2007. 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.