Medical Pot Supporters Breathing Easier – For Now

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L.A.’s Ban on Marijuana Dispensaries in Limbo

More than 15 years have gone by since a majority of California voters approved a ballot measure, okaying the medicinal use of marijuana. But the debate is still running strong, especially when it comes to the dispensaries that distribute the drug. And that includes the city of Los Angeles, where pleas from patients have been countered by complaints about the number of pot shops that have sprung up – more than 700 in all – and the crime that critics say they attract.

Earlier this year, the L.A. City Council moved to crackdown on the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The council unanimously approved a ban on pot shops that was supposed to go into effect Thursday. But that’s not going according to plan. Opponents of the ban say they’ve submitted the signatures of 50,000 voters who want a referendum on the ban to be put on the March ballot. That’s almost twice as many signatures as were required to force to a vote. As of now, the council ban is on hold while the L.A. City Clerk verifies the signatures. The clinics will stay open, for now, and the whole medical marijuana mess has been thrown into confusion once again.

Rick Orlov, City Hall Bureua Chief for the L.A. Daily News, spoke to KCRW’s Chery Glaser about the steps that medical marijuana supporters have taken to overturn the city’s ban, and what’s likely to happen next in the city’s long-running battle to control medicinal pot.