Medical pot ban opponents file suit

Aug. 18, 2012 at 10:25 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Opponents to a ban on Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries say they hope to collect enough signatures to put the question to a vote next year.

Activists argue the new law violates a state law that guarantees safe access to the drug for patients needing it, which is the basis of a lawsuit filed against the city Friday by a medical marijuana trade association representing patients, dispensaries and growers, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The Los Angeles City Council last month approved the ban on the medical marijuana dispensaries that prohibits storefront sales of marijuana but allows groups of three or fewer to cultivate and share the drug.

Supporters said the ordinance gives the city the legal ability to close dispensaries, particularly those that have been subject of repeated complaints from neighbors.

Besides citing the possible violations of existing laws, activists said the new restrictions won't work because they put medical marijuana out of reach for most patients because growing medical-grade marijuana is expensive.

Some defiant dispensary owners have vowed stay open even as they received notification that they must close by Sept. 6. In the letter sent this week, dispensary operators were told they risk jail and fines of up to $2,500 a day for failure to comply with the ban.

If ban opponents are successful in getting the roughly 27,400 signatures needed within the next three weeks, the referendum would share the ballot with the mayoral primary in March and the ban would be temporarily suspended in the meantime, the Times said.

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