32 Marijuana Dispensaries Still Eligible In Long Beach, CA


Photo: Jonathan Van Dyke
Long Beach senior city auditor Scott Gardiner uses a pen to push a lottery ping pong ball through a special lottery machine during a test run on Monday. City officials ending up ditching the lottery machine — through which the balls wouldn’t fit — and pulled the numbers by hand from a “We Recycle” bin.

​Another 11 Long Beach, California marijuana dispensaries will have to close their doors after being eliminated from the permit application process during a lottery on Monday, leaving 32 still eligible for final permits.

The lottery was set up because Long Beach Municipal Code 5.87 does not allow for any collective to operate within 1,000 feet of another, reports Jonathan Van Dyke of Gazettes.com.
Dispensaries whose lottery number was pulled first were accepted over other sites that conflicted with them.

Current and prospective dispensary owners packed the City Council chambers for Monday’s drawing.

Photo: Brittany Murray/Long Beach Press Telegram
When the machine intended to select the winning balls for the marijuana dispensary lottery would not function properly, a recycle bin and hand drawing system was used. Scott Gardiner, left, with the city auditor’s office, and City Clerk Larry Herrera get it done.

​The city government had bought official lottery machines that would push up ping pong balls for the entire room to see. But that plan was abandoned when the actual lottery balls did not fit through the machine — apparently the planning on the part of Long Beach city officials leaves a little to be desired.
Instead, City Clerk Larry Herrera had to pick the numbers out by hand from a small “We Recycle” bin. He shook the bin before each ping pong ball was selected.
An estimated 95 collectives were operating in Long Beach before the law went into effect. Municipal Code 5.87 requires that all dispensaries get a permit and follow particular rules, including adherence to school buffer zones.
Those school buffer zones eliminated many of Long Beach’s existing dispensaries. Only 49 shops applied for the final permits. Of those applications, five were deemed incomplete.
The city released a map several days before the lottery showing that 23 collectives were not in conflict with any other shops, so those owners had their ping pong balls pre-selected as a formality.
The rest of the dispensaries had to sweat it through the process — especially since many of them had paid more than $26,000 in nonrefundable application fees — as balls were selected, one by one, put onto a projection map and then declared “accepted” or “not accepted.”
“I just invested probably $100,000 and 10 months of my life in this thing, and now I don’t know where I’m going to go,” said New Generation Consumer Collection’s owner, Jesse Paul.
Paul said that he’d consult an attorney before he gave up on the situation. More than anything, he was disappointed in who actually did win, he said.
“The guy who won, they’re not even open yet,” he said. “There was me and another guy (eliminated in that area) and we’ve both been open (for some time).”

Photo: Brittany Murray/Long Beach Press Telegram
The owners/operators of 1Love Collective were pleased as their application was accepted in the lottery draw. From left, Jeff Abrams, Courtney Boyd, Matthew Abrams and attorney Daniel J. Kern enjoy the moment.

​But some dispensary operators were very happy.
When their lottery number was called, a large contingent from Cornerstone Health and Wellness, 1838 Wardlow Road, burst into celebration.
“We relocated and found out there was a shop that opened right next to us,” said co-owner Mitch Evans just outside City Hall. “So we were thrown into the lottery with them and we’ve just been on pins and needles since.”
“We were just praying that our number would come up, and it did, and we’re just so excited,” Evans said.
The 32 remaining collectives will go through an inspection process, a public noticing and a final hearing, according to Erik Sund, Long Beach’s business relations manager.
The ordinance gives Sund’s office 60 days to complete the work. Final permit fees could cost owners as much as $30,000, depending on a collective’s size.
Sund said that he didn’t know when another application process for dispensary permits would be held.
A strong security presence, including a checkpoint that people had to go through before entering the chamber, was at the lottery.
“We were keeping in mind that there would be people who won and people who lost,” Sund said. “And people can be sore losers, especially when they have money on the line.”
Owners or dispensary directors paid $14,742 for a dispensary application and another $11,584 for a separate cultivation site application, if needed.
Those fees, totaling $26,326, were nonrefundable.