What part of a court ruling on medical marijuana collectives doesn’t the Long Beach City Council get?
Apparently council members don’t quite grasp that under a state appeals court ruling cities can ban medical marijuana outlets but can’t allow them through a permitting process like the ones Long Beach and Los Angeles use.
Long Beach City Attorney Bob Shannon had urged the council to shut down all dispensaries until an appeal to the state Supreme Court – providing further guidelines to cities – is decided. A similar proposal is before the L.A. City Council, where unpermitted dispensaries abound. Authorities say that crime around the dispensaries – both permitted and not – is a tremendous burden on police.
But the Long Beach City Council hedged its bet Tuesday by allowing 18 permitted dispensaries to keep selling marijuana for six months. They did, however, vote to ban dispensaries that don’t have permits. It appears the Long Beach City Council is buying time as the issue is decided by the state Supreme Court, which may take another year or more to rule whether the permitting process is legal.
Worse, the city prosecutor says it will take up to a year to shut down the estimated 35 unpermitted dispensaries in Long Beach.
There’s a faster way: Just ask neighborhood groups where the illegal dispensaries are located. In a week they’d be identified and shuttered.
In fact, the Los Angeles Police Department has managed to shutter most of the illegal dispensaries in north San Fernando Valley. Police said that one dispensary was pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit. This despite state law that mandates dispensaries be nonprofits in which collective members contribute to the growing and harvesting of the drug.
An LAPD official told a reporter, “You come in the door of these stores, they sign you up into the collective, you are now a member of the collective, and you give us a predetermined donation for the marijuana that we give to you. That is absolutely sales. Donations are voluntary.”
An attorney for several medical marijuana dispensaries said cities have the right to regulate dispensaries, but a total ban is inappropriate.
An outright ban, like the one proposed in both Los Angeles and Long Beach, won’t prevent patients who need marijuana for treating illnesses from growing their own.
That’s a far cry from allowing the hundreds of rogue dispensaries in the L.A. area to operate in what one Long Beach official called “the wild West.”
Jose Huizar, who represents Eagle Rock on the Los Angeles City Council, is the champion of the L.A. ban. He has said that illegal dispensaries are opening daily, some near schools and parks. In other words, the dispensary operators are thumbing their noses at residents, police and city officials. But even though the ban is labeled a temporary urgency ordinance, it is languishing with no set date for the council to consider it.
The clear solution is for both cities to ban all dispensaries while the state Supreme Court decides the issue. What part of that doesn’t the Long Beach City Council understand?