Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Filed Against City of Long Beach Dismissed

A lawsuit filed against the City of Long Beach and City Clerk Larry Herrera by medical marijuana supporters was dismissed by a federal district court on December 10, city officials announced today.

The plaintiffs, Jeremy Coltharp and Edith Frazier, claimed Herrera violated federal and state election law by failing to place a medical marijuana initiative on the City’s general election ballot.

Coltharp and Frazier submitted a petition on February 8, 2013 to place an ordinance regulating medical marijuana cooperatives within the City on the ballot for a special election.

“As required by state law, the City Clerk reviewed a sampling of the petition’s signatures to determine whether the initiative qualified for a special election,” said Monte H. Machit, Assistant City Attorney, in a statement. “The City Clerk’s statistical analysis determined that the petition did not have the requisite number of signatures to qualify for a special election, and no further action could be taken. Conceding that the petition did not have the requisite number of signatures for a special election, the plaintiffs argued that Herrera was nevertheless required to place the initiative on the next general election. Herrera and the City maintained that the City Clerk is not legally empowered to change the wording of any initiative. Since the petition specifically sought to be placed on the ballot of a special election, Herrera could not ignore this language and simply place the initiative on the next general election. The Court agreed.”

In a summary judgment, the court determined that the City’s actions were lawful, consistent with state election law and that Herrera did not violate the plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights.

“The judge concluded that City Clerk Herrera ‘was unquestionably reasonable,’ in his dealing with the petition and the plaintiffs,” Machit said.

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