Medical Marijuana Proponents Say They Have Enough Signatures to Force Ballot Referendum
August 29, 2012
Ted Chen and Olga Spilewsky, NBC Los Angeles
Proponents of medicinal marijuana say they have collected enough signatures to force a ballot referendum to repeal LA’s ban on pot dispensaries.
Several patients held a news conference in Eagle Rock on Wednesday to emphasize what activists believe is at stake: the ability of sick people to get the medicine they need.
Michael Oliveri has muscular dystrophy and says the ban will make it more difficult for him to obtain his medical marijuana.
“I was on pain meds for about five years, and I almost died, literally, from fecal poisoning,” said Oliveri. “And ever since then, the only medication I take is medical marijuana.”
Activists announced they received 50,000 signatures. The ban was originally passed after a failed attempt to regulate close to 1,000 dispensaries; an amount that both sides agree is out of control.
[UPDATE, 12:30 P.M., Thursday] Officials confirmed that the signatures were turned in to the City Clerk's office. Officials will need about 15 to 30 days to count the signatures.
“The best thing we can do right now is see to it that whichever facilities are open in LA are well-regulated and held to a legal standard,” said Don Duncan with Americans For Safe Access. “Now remember, the ban doesn’t establish any legal standard, no operational guidelines. It just pushes everything out of sight.”
Supporters of the ban acknowledge that medical marijuana has been a legal mess with conflicting state, federal and local laws.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar said a ban was necessary to send a message that the crime and other problems associated with the dispensaries will not be tolerated.
“At the end of the day, we have a terrible state law that makes no sense,” he said. “And, that’s why cities continue to have litigation. Cities continue to fumble with what’s the appropriate way to set up a system to provide for access while protecting neighborhoods.”