Pubdate: Thu, 19 Dec 2013
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Alicia Robinson



Medical-marijuana supporters trying to qualify a ballot measure
allowing a limited number of dispensaries in Riverside have about 180
days to collect signatures.

About 12,000 voters must sign their petitions to put it on the ballot
in June 2015  the city's next regular election  or about 18,000 voters
to get a special election called sooner.

Proponents are training volunteers and may begin circulating petitions
as soon as this weekend, said Jason Thompson, an attorney representing
Riverside Safe Access, the group backing the measure.

The "Riverside medical marijuana restriction and limitation act" would
create a process to allow about 10 or fewer dispensaries to open in
commercial and industrial zones and would set out rules for how they
would operate.

Supporters say the measure would help Riverside patients get access to
marijuana without having to drive to Los Angeles or go to the black
market. Opponents, such as Riverside Councilman Steve Adams, said that
dispensaries, which the city attorney fought to close, were causing
crime and residents didn't want them.

Political consultant Marc O'Hara said Tuesday, Dec. 17, that Riverside
Safe Access had disbanded and was not gathering signatures, but
Thompson said Wednesday that O'Hara is no longer working for the group
and the effort is indeed going forward.

Initiative supporter Lanny Swerdlow was on the board of the Inland
Empire Patients' Health and Wellness Center, a dispensary that closed
after a state Supreme Court ruling in May that Riverside and other
cities can use zoning to ban the facilities. He said signature
gatherers will go to "shopping centers, Walmarts, wherever you find

But Adams, the councilman, said he doesn't expect the petitions to be
well-received by voters.

"I don't think the majority of the responsible people of the city of
Riverside are going to support selling marijuana in neighborhoods like
they were before," he said.