LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A citywide ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles could be suspended before it even takes effect.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports activists are set to deliver 50,000 signatures to the City Clerk’s office Wednesday to allow voters to chime in on the controversial issue.

The petition calls for a referendum next March on the new ordinance banning storefront dispensaries, which goes into effect Sept. 6.

But the petition’s immediate effect will be to prevent the ordinance from closing down any of the city’s estimated 1,000 pot shops under the threat of a $2,500 fine.

The City Council enacted the ban on Aug. 15 after hearing from community leaders like Pastor John Moretta from Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights.

“Because of greed, they have multiplied,” said Moretta. “For example, just in my parish boundaries, there are three new dispensaries that started in the last three months.”

One Highland Park resident said the petition reflects an explosion of dispensaries in his neighborhood.

“Now I have one, two, three, four, five, six within walking distance of my house,” he said.

Once the petition is submitted, the City Clerk’s office will verify the signatures against voter registration information.

If placed on the ballot next March, the referendum on the ban would take place just as Angelenos head to the polls to elect a new mayor.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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