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Bid to repeal L.A. pot shop ban may be headed to voters

August 30, 2012 |  7:33 am

Supporters of medical cannabis expect to turn in the petition signatures of 50,000 voters to force a referendum to overturn the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles

Supporters of medical cannabis expect to turn in Thursday the petition signatures of 50,000 voters to force a referendum to overturn the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.

If the signatures prove valid, officials will be required to temporarily suspend the ban, which was approved with much fanfare last month and was due to go into effect Sept. 6.

Despite the looming threat of a referendum, the medical marijuana activists are hoping the matter won't come down to a ballot measure.

"We hope the City Council will come back to us now and say, 'Let's sit down at the table,'" said Rick Icaza, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 770, which is backing the repeal.

He noted that if the referendum goes forward, it would share a ballot with the mayoral primary contest, the city attorney's race and eight council elections, forcing candidates to pick sides on what has been a polarizing issue.

If the referendum signatures are certified by election officials, the council will have 20 days to repeal the ban or put the issue on a ballot.

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Photo: Medical cannabis proponents including, from right, Norma Schaffer, 59, Gary Carver, 34, and Freddie Metcalf, 58, appear at a news conference Wednesday, announcing the submission of 50,000 signatures to overturn L.A.'s ban on dispensaries. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

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