Long Beach Pot Dispensaries Demand Equal Time


Photo: Long Beach Marijuana Collective

​The Long Beach, California City Council is moving towards passing rules for medical marijuana businesses, but some local dispensaries are worried that the balance is shifting too far in the direction of unnecessary regulation, like the ordinance recently passed in Los Angeles.

Carl Kemp, of the Kemp Group, which represents about 10 local dispensaries, said that supporters of medical marijuana collectives haven’t been allowed enough time for discussion and presentation with the City Council, reports Ryan ZumMallen at LBPost.com.

Mayor Bob Foster gave speakers representing the dispensaries only two minutes, rather than the customary three minutes. He claimed the time restriction was imposed because that particular City Council meeting was running long.

Photo: Ross Berteig
Los Angeles County D.A. Steve Cooley: “Approximately zero” dispensaries are legal

​What’s worse, Kemp said Thursday, is that Mayor Foster’s office has invited Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley — notorious for his hardline stance against marijuana dispensaries — to address the Council during next Tuesday’s meeting.
Kemp said he had made “numerous attempts” to get equal time for a presentation of his own, but hasn’t heard back from the mayor’s office.
“You give [Cooley’s office] a platform to make their argument before a vote, and you don’t give anyone else the opportunity to give a counterpoint?” Kemp said. “That flies in the face of democracy, and it flies in the face of this argument that you’re trying to make sure that things are done right.”
“You’re trying to make sure, in my view, that these things are done in the most restrictive way, and all but eliminate them from being in this city, when you’re already agreed that they are medicine.”
Restricting the allotted public speaking time and inviting an outside legal opinion (especially from a notorious hardliner) are a hindrance, Kemp said, to the hard work that has already gone into crafting an intricate ordinance that seems to — for the moment — hold a majority Council vote to approve.
Taylor Honrath, legislative aide to Mayor Foster, said next Tuesday’s presentation will be made by staff from D.A. Cooley’s office, and not the district attorney himself.
Honrath said the intention is not to shift the Council’s decision one way or the other, but simply to “share similar experiences” with crafting an ordinance in Los Angeles and how it relates to the similar process in Long Beach.
Bear in mind, though, that media hog Cooley has, infamously and more than once, offered his opinion that “approximately zero” of the dispensaries in Los Angeles are operating legally.
In fact, Cooley pleaded with the Los Angeles City Council to ban all sales, and then threatened to specifically target and close down the dispensaries regardless of what the Los Angeles City Council decided on the matter.
Long Beach’s proposed dispensary ordinance is viewed as more collective-friendly than the one adopted by Los Angeles a few weeks ago; in fact, some L.A. dispensaries have threatened to sue the city.
But if Honrath is to be believed, that’s not the agenda in Long Beach.
“The District Attorney’s office isn’t coming in here to deliver an anti-collective message,” she claimed.
Honrath said the exact agenda for the Council meeting hadn’t been finalized, but that worries from Kemp and his clients were “unnecessary.”
Kemp expressed concern that those opposed to the dispensary ordinance had been proposing more restrictions in recent weeks, capped off by the Mayor postponing the final Council vote by a week in order to allow the office of a notoriously opinionated district attorney to make a presentation.