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Petition Has Enough Signatures to Force Referendum on LA Pot Shop Ban

The City Clerk announced Monday that marijuana advocates have submitted the required number of signatures to overturn the city’s “gentle ban” ordinance.

A petition by medical marijuana advocates aimed at repealing the Los Angeles City Council’s ban on marijuana storefronts has enough signatures to force a referendum on the ordinance, the City Clerk announced Monday.

The City Council now has the option of either repealing the ban, calling a special election within the next 110 to 140 days or putting the issue on the March 5 city election ballot.

The ban had been scheduled to take effect Sept. 6, but it was put on hold when the group of activists submitted about 50,000 petition signatures to the City Clerk's Office in hopes of forcing a vote on the issue.

Monrovia currently has a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries.

Los Angeles City Clerk June Lagmay said in a statement that a random statistical sampling by her office found that 49,021 signatures were valid, well above the required 27,425.

According to the clerk's office, the City Council is expected to consider its next move sometime before Oct. 7.

The "gentle ban," crafted by Councilman José Huizar and supported by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, called for the closure of all medical marijuana storefronts in light of public complaints, as well as the lack of guidance by the state and the courts about how to regulate them. The ban still allowed patients to grow their own marijuana in groups of three or less individuals, as mandated by state law.

After the petition signatures were submitted, the city attorney's office posted a notice online indicating that it would not enforce the city's ban, but it also warned that "the business of medical marijuana continues to be an unpermitted land use in the city.''

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