Los Angeles Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Initiative to Keep LA Pot Dispensaries Open Qualifies for Ballot

A second initiative would allow even more

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Prospects that the emotional debate over medical marijuana dispensaries will bleed into the Los Angeles' mayoral race increased sharply this week when an initiative to keep some pot shops open qualified for the ballot.

The measure was certified as eligible to appear on the ballot late Wednesday after officials determined that its supporters had collected the required 41,138 valid signatures. The City Council has until the end of the month to enact the proposed ordinance, call a special election or place it before voters in the May 21 election.

A second initiative that would allow an even larger number of pot shops is being vetted by city officials and could appear on the same ballot.

The proposals are putting lawmakers in an awkward — if familiar — position. Last fall, the council reluctantly agreed to reverse its ban on storefront sales of medical pot after activists gathered enough signatures to place a repeal of the law on the March primary ballot, when voters will choose candidates for mayor, city attorney, city controller and eight council seats.