Referendum backer Dan Halbert delivers a box of signed petitions to the city elections division office Monday.
Attorney Nathan Hoffman joins him at the counter. (Credit LA Times Christina House / March 15, 2010)
LA Times reporter John Hoeffel wrote that "Dan Halbert, operator of Rainforest Collective in Mar Vista and the principal organizer, said the coalition of collectives gathered about 30,000 signatures but determined that only about 14,200 appeared valid. The collectives need at least 27,425 signatures for the referendum to qualify."
That's good news for the residents of Los Angeles, and especially good news for Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich who spearheaded the effort to convince Los Angeles City Councilmembers that they could and should clamp down on the estimated 1,000+ marijuana shops in Los Angeles, most believed to be illegally selling the drug under the guise of being "dispensaries."
Pro-marijuana advocates widely use the term "dispensary" to refer to marijuana shops in what is believed to be an attempt to mislead the public into thinking that a shop that sells narcotics is somehow legal if it is called a "dispensary." However, the word "dispensary appears nowhere in the legislation that allows for medical marijuana to be distributed by non-profit "collectives." The drug sellers doubtless spent thousands of dollars in public opinion research to come up with a word to disguise the true nature of their conduct, according to Alfie Noaks, spokesperson for Save Our Kids From Dope, a grassroots movement aimed at eradicating marijuana shops near schools.
Trutanich and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley were initially the only elected officials to challenge the legality of the drug sellers, but as community outrage built, fueled by efforts of marijuana shop owners to target school children at the Grant High School, the City Council stepped up efforts to take action against the drug dealers.
The low number of signatures gathered by the drug dealers stands in stark contrast to the bold statements made by Americans for Safe Access who promised a lawsuit and an outpouring of public outrage at the closure of the drug sellers. "The reality appears to be that nobody really believes the bullshit about marijuana being 'medicine,' or that a 'dispensary' is anything other than a drug dealer who has moved from the alley to a storefront," Noakes said.
Los Angeles' ordinance that will result in the mass closure of marijuana shops is expected to come into force in May, and with the failure of the drug advocates to gather anything like the signatures needed, little opposition is likely.