Medical Marijuana Ordinance to Get Final Los Angeles City Council Vote Tuesday

The Los Angeles City Council will decide Tuesday whether to repeal its ban on storefront medical marijuana dispensaries or to have voters decide whether to squash the law or let it survive.

The City Council in July banned all storefront medical marijuana dispensaries, but allowed patients and licensed caregivers to grow their own cannabis. The so-called “gentle ban” ordinance also allowed three or fewer parties to collectively grow pot.

Estimates by the city put the number of dispensaries in the city at close to 1,000. Medical cannabis supporters bashed the law, saying high-quality marijuana is difficult to grow and the gentle ban would deny cancer, AIDS and other chronically ill patients one of the only medicines that provides relief from painful medical treatments.

The Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods, a coalition of medical marijuana advocacy groups — Americans for Safe Access, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 — gathered 49,021 signatures to ask voters to overturn the law. The tally was well over the 27,425 signatures needed to qualify the measure, and the referendum was certified by the City Clerk last month.

“We have always been seeking a fair compromise to resolve this complicated issue,” said Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770, which represents about 500 workers at 50 marijuana dispensaries.

“We would like to see a law that regulates and restricts medical cannabis dispensaries, but preserves safe access for patients, and good union jobs for dispensary employees.”

– Read the entire article at Contra Costa Times.