LONG BEACH — Medical marijuana backers packed the City Council chamber on Tuesday to urge council members not to ban cannabis collectives.
Long Beach’s 2010 permit ordinance was invalidated last month by a 2nd District Court of Appeal ruling that found the law contradicts U.S. code forbidding use of marijuana. U.S. attorneys have since announced a crackdown on dispensaries across California, which has allowed the drug as medicine since 1996.
Shortly after, the council signaled its intent to repeal the city’s permit process, prohibit marijuana businesses and appeal to the State Supreme Court for clarification regarding the city’s power to control medical marijuana sales.
Seven pro-medical marijuana speakers addressed the council during the public comment period. Among other points, they touted the health benefits of marijuana use, the jobs created by cannabis commerce and said the drug’s prohibition is part of a “corrupt” system.
Carl Kemp, a spokesman for the newly-formed Long Beach Collective Association, requested that council members not bow to federal pressure and instead alter its permit law rather than banning collectives outright.
“We, including all of you and city staff, have worked very hard to create an ordinance that provides safe access for people with state-approved medical
recommendations,” said Kemp.
As Kemp and others spoke, dozens more supporters sat in the audience, sometimes raucously cheering.
The rowdiness of the pro-medical marijuana crowd at one point compelled Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal to ask for order.
“If I might remind everyone, this is not a sporting event,” Lowenthal said.
“I appreciate your passion, but please be respectful to the institutions as well as the speaker.”
No council action related to medical marijuana was on the agenda Tuesday night.
City Attorney Robert Shannon said last week that he could be ready to come to council members with their requested action around the middle of this month.
Lowenthal acknowledged that the issue was emotional, and asked audience members to work with the city in the coming weeks.
“Those of us who have to make public policy decisions have to weigh many, many, many layers of complexity that many of you have already spoken to in addition to the personal need and what constitutes personal use,” said Lowenthal.
Councilman Robert Garcia suggested unscrupulous collectives may be giving a bad name to those operating legitimately under state law and providing marijuana to patients with need for access.
“I think that should be central to our discussions,” Garcia said.
At a pre-meeting rally, 36-year-old Matthew Wallick of Redondo Beach said he has been using cannabis since he was 19 to control symptoms of Tourette syndrome.
“In my case, it’s physical ticks,” Wallick said, “not having pain making my receptors fire and having me make faces.”
If Long Beach goes through with banning dispensaries, Wallick predicted he would break the law to avoid taking federally-accepted medications he says don’t work as well and have undesirable side effects.
“I’ll get access one way or another, I’d just rather it be safe,” he said.
NewsHawk: Raysdad 420 Magazine
Author: Eric Bradley
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