CA: Orange Couty - Santa Ana Medical Marijuana Supporters Hand Over 16,000 Signatures

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Monterey Bud, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Monterey Bud Monterey Bud

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    By RON GONZALES / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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    Supporters of a proposed initiative to allow medical dispensaries to operate in Santa Ana on Thursday turned in nine boxes of signatures to the city in an effort to place the measure on the citywide ballot.

    City Clerk Maria Huizar said Thursday her staff counted 16,948 signatures, which could be enough to set a special election.

    In order to qualify for the ballot, proponents must have the signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in the city, or nearly 11,000, for a regular election, and the signatures of 15 percent, or nearly 16,500 signatures, for a special election.

    The next step is verification by the Orange County Registrar of Voters, which is expected to take place next month.

    Huizar said the council will be asked at its Feb. 4 meeting to authorize the cost of the verification. A full check of each signature would cost about $57,000.

    If 10 percent of the signatures prove valid, the measure would qualify for the next general election in November 2014. If 15 percent prove valid, a special election would be set within 88 to 103 days. Huizar estimated the cost of a special election at $300,000.

    If the proposed measure has enough signatures to qualify for a ballot, the City Council would have the choice to either let voters decide in an election, or adopt the proposed initiative.

    The measure, called the Medical Cannabis Restriction and Limitation Initiative, would set up a process through which dispensaries could register with the city, could operate in only certain zones and in return pay a 2 percent tax.

    The initiative is sponsored by the Committee to Support Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative PAC. Kandice Hawes, principal officer of the committee, said it cost about $50,000 to gather the signatures with volunteers and paid signature-gatherers.

    In 2007, the City Council passed a measure that outlaws storefront medical-marijuana dispensaries but left the door open for hospitals and other state-licensed care centers to provide the drug.

    Residents, nonetheless, have complained about a proliferation of marijuana dispensaries. Enforcement of the ordinance is handled by the city's code enforcement staff.

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