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Facing orders to close, L.A. pot shop owners vow to overturn ban

August 16, 2012 | 11:40 am

L.A. pot shop owners vow to overturn ban
Medical marijuana dispensary owners across Los Angeles will be receiving glum news in the mail this week: a letter from the city telling them it's time to shut down. 

But despite threats of fines and jail time, some dispensary owners have vowed to stay open. They say they are working hard to qualify a ballot measure to overturn the ban on storefront sales of medical marijuana passed last month by the Los Angeles City Council.

The letter from the city, sent Tuesday from the office of City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, says dispensaries have until Sept. 6 to comply with the ban. Shops that refuse to shut down may be subject to penalties of $2,500 a day and up to six months in jail.

Dispensary owner Yamileth Bolanos, who heads the Greater Los Angeles Collectives Alliance, said she hadn't gotten the letter yet. But she was defiant: "I'm not shutting down."

Bolanos, who believes the city could have come up with a workable policy that would limit the number of dispensaries while also ensuring patients have access to the drug, said her group's current focus is on collecting signatures for a voter referendum to overturn the ban.

The process of getting signatures has already begun, according to Don Duncan, California director for Americans for Safe Access. He said about 27,500 people must sign the petition for the referendum -- or one-tenth of the voters who participated in the last mayoral election.

Last month's ban was seen as a turning point in the city's seemingly unending battle to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana.

It will outlaw the estimated 1,000 or so storefront dispensaries in the city, but it will still allow patients and their caregivers to grow and share marijuana in groups of three people or fewer.

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-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

twitter.com/katelinthicum

Photo: A sample of various strains of medical marijuana at PureLife Alternative Wellness Center in Los Angeles. Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images

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