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EXCLUSIVE: Commerce Coalition Collects More Than Enough Signatures to Pass Cannabis Ordinance Referendum

 

BY BRIAN HEWS

Last week, a coalition of concerned residents and local business owners fanned out into the city of Commerce gathering signatures to begin a referendum to revoke twenty-two cannabis ordinances recently passed in the city and stop any additional licenses from being issued.

And it looks like they are in a very strong position to achieve their goal.

By definition, a referendum is a challenge by voters to the enactment of a statute already made by a legislative body, in this case the Commerce City Council, and is quite different from the initiative process.

The very nature of the referendum process is that it must be accomplished in a very condensed time frame. Consequently, there are no requirements for proponents to file notices, publish notices in newspapers, or obtain documents or input from City officials;   it is truly a process of the people.

Under the Elections Code (Code), the referenda petition must be circulated within thirty days of the passage of the ordinance(s) and must be signed by 10% of the registered voters.

When the gathering process is completed, the signatures must be submitted to the Commerce City Clerk (Clerk) for validation.

Under the Code, the Clerk and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office has thirty days from the date of filing of the petition to verify signatures.

If the petition is found to be “sufficient,” meaning the required number of signatures are valid, the Clerk will certify the results at the next Commerce City Council regular meeting.

At that time the ordinance is suspended until one of two actions occur: a special election is called within 88 days of the certification of the referenda or the ordinance is placed on the next regular municipal election which will be 2020.

 

 

In either case, if all steps are followed, the ordinance is suspended and, in turn, all twenty-two cannabis licenses will be suspended.

Coalition Checks All the Boxes

The Commerce cannabis ordinances were passed May 7; the coalition completed its signature gathering and will submit signatures next Monday June 3, well within the required time frame.

At last count there was 6,800 registered voters in Commerce, which equates to 680 valid signatures to qualify the referenda.

In a testament to the strength of the anti-cannabis movement, the coalition indicated they have over 1,000 valid signatures and that each person signed twenty-two petitions, one for each ordinance.

The coalition also told HMG-LCCN that they retained “professional signature verifiers” who pre-checked the petition signatures ensuring that “the signatures will be valid.”

If that is the case, and the Clerk and Registrar-Recorder take thirty business days to validate the signatures and certify the referenda, the ordinances could potentially be suspended at the July 16 City Council meeting.

 

 

 

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