By Anne Alvarez
Facing the public’s outcry in the form of lawsuits, petitions and criticism: the Los Angeles City Council voted 11-2 to overturn the medical marijuana dispensary ban on October 2, allowing the city to avoid a referendum next year that Council officials said would likely succeed in reversing the prohibition. Medical marijuana advocates collected in August well over the necessary 27,425 signatures to put the decision to a March 2013 referendum, seeking to overturn the so-called “gentle ban” on pot shops which the City Council approved in July.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is undergoing treatment for cancer and uses medically prescribed marijuana to deal with the side-effects from chemo-therapy said “What we had, the gentle ban, was an ugly ban. I’m here today because we have this vote. Where does anyone go, even a Councilman, when they need medical marijuana?” added Rosendahl in a soft, raspy voice.
Council members said it was time to go back to the drawing board on regulating the city’s nearly 1,000 pot shops.
Members could have voted to place the referendum on the ballot or to repeal the ban. The Council also took up a proposal, which passed, to urge state lawmakers in Sacramento to pass regulations that would allow medical marijuana patients to safely and easily obtain their medicine while preventing illegal business practices.
Council President Herb Wesson and other Council members said they didn’t want to see an election on the issue. “If we allow this to go on the ballot, it will be a Ringling Brothers circus,” Wesson said in an interview before the vote. “I really don’t think that the voters want to deal with this, we repeal this thing and do what we should have done years ago, which is go to Sacramento, close loopholes so that we can put in force a policy that we can enforce.”
The Council must now come up with regulations governing dispensaries in the city. Current action by the Council leaves the city without any rules or regulations regarding the maintaining of dispensaries citywide.