Last Thursday was set to designate the end of Los Angeles’ medical marijuana dispensaries after a recent vote of the L.A. City Council had imposed a ban late this July. However, doctors, patients and other advocates for medical marijuana usage have stalled the ban. Additionally, many dispensaries claim the ban itself is illegal and are responding to the city with lawsuits.

California, being one of 17 states in the United States in which the usage of medical marijuana is legal, naturally became a hub for medical marijuana dispensaries, with LA being the heart.  Nearly 1,000 dispensaries popped up in L.A. alone, which was enough for Councilman Jose Huizar to draft a bill with intent to outlaw dispensaries themselves.  However, with marijuana itself still legal in California, Huizar’s “gentle ban” would tolerate a small handful of patients or caregivers to farm their own medication.

Marc O’ Hara, executive director of Patient Care Alliance L.A. is spearheading a lawsuit against the city in regards to how the ban is managing the clinics. O’Hara and his group are concerned that the ban will push legitimate medical users underground where the substance could be contaminated or mixed with other controlled substances and patients could be possibly endangered.

Don Duncan, head of California’s chapter of Americans for Safe Access, has been pooling efforts to collect tens of thousands of signatures that demand a repeal of the ban. If and when the signatures are verified, L.A. citizens will vote on the referendum in March. For now, the ban is on hold for good. California’s Supreme Court still has yet to determine if the city even has the power to shut down the clinics at all.

Medical Marijuana usage is established to have healthful effects for patients suffering from AIDS, autism, lung, breast, and prostate cancer, and may help treat multiple sclerosis and epilepsy as well. The national Cancer Institute states “Cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies” and “Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory and to affect the immune system.” While, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, the debate rages on. Should moral judgments be made on substances?  Do the benefits outweigh the possible social repercussions? Can chemicals be inherently good or bad?