The Los Angeles City Council repealed a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries on Tuesday night.

That ban, passed in July, was put on hold by citizen activists who raised a ballot initiative to rebuke the city's move, gaining access to the citywide ballot for a special election in March. Appearing wary of spending money to hold the election on an issue they knew would fail, the council repealed the ban themselves in an 11-2 vote on Tuesday.

One of the key moments in the debate came when LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, himself a medical marijuana patient who's suffering from a rare type of cancer, revealed that his doctors said recently that he doesn't have long to live. "If I can't get marijuana, and this is medically prescribed, what do I do?" he asked. "And what do all the people who have health issues [do]?"

U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said Tuesday that his office sued three shops and put 68 others on warning. “Even those stores not targeted today should understand that they cannot continue to profit in violation of the law," Birotte said in September.

Tuesday's vote means there will no longer be a citywide ordinance regulating the sales of medical marijuana. The measure has to be voted upon once more because Tuesday's ballots were not unanimous. The council also passed a resolution calling for state lawmakers to clarify how cities may regulate marijuana sales.

Medical marijuana was legalized by California voters in 1996. The California Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the AIDS Action Council, among others, have since declared that federal prohibition laws should be overturned to allow for further medical research on the drug. A survey by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research found in May that 74 percent of Americans think states which allow medical marijuana should not face federal interference. So far, 17 states and Washington D.C. allow the drug's use for medical purposes.

This video is from NBC Los Angeles, broadcast Tuensday, Oct. 3, 2012.

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Photo: Flickr user eggrole, creative commons licensed.