Medical Marijuana Advocates Decry Los Angeles Dispensary Ban Vote, Announce Referendum Campaign

Los Angeles, CA -- After more than four years of attempting to craft a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance, despite dozens of regulatory examples across California, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously today to ban the facilities outright. The ban was passed despite more than ten thousand letters sent by medical marijuana patients and their supporters over the past few weeks urging the council to adopt sensible regulations rather than a complete ban. Advocates expressed outrage at this vote and have vowed to seek a referendum to reverse the new law.

"This is an outrage that the city council would think a reasonable solution to the distribution of medical marijuana would be to simply outlaw it altogether," said Don Duncan, California Director with Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group. "The tens of thousands of patients harmed by this vote will not take it sitting down," continued Duncan. "We will campaign forcefully to overturn this poor decision by the council."

In addition to the dispensary ban vote, the city council voted 9-5 today to have the city attorney draft an ordinance that would allow for a certain number of city-regulated facilities. Patient advocates will continue to support sensible proposals similar to one previously recommended by Council member Paul Koretz and Council President Herb Wesson, which took into account the need to regulate dispensaries in the city.

In an attempt to cover for the harmful approach the city has taken on medical marijuana, local officials have referred to the ordinance as a "gentle ban." Patient advocates are taking issue with this characterization of the city's new policy. "The city is whitewashing their actions by calling this a 'gentle ban,' when in reality it offers patients nothing more than what's already legal under state law, and denies patients the real need to safely and legally obtain their medication," said Duncan. Advocates have long argued that such bans on distribution are not only illegal, but also deprive patients of a legal medication and needlessly push those patients into the illicit market.

Mayor Villaraigosa has 30 days to sign the ordinance into law, and then it will go into effect a few days later, upon publication.

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