Nine more Long Beach, California medical marijuana dispensaries will be forced to shut down under amendments passed by the City Council Tuesday night, leaving 27 locations for legal patients to obtain cannabis.
The council reached a late-night compromise, voting not to fully support changes to the city’s medical marijuana law that had been supported by three Council members, but still adding some new restrictions for the collectives, reports Paul Eakins at Contra Costa Times.
Fortunately for patients, the Council didn’t, as had been proposed, restrict marijuana cultivation to industrial areas, nor limit the number of collectives allowed throughout the city. But it did create buffer zones around city parks where dispensaries will not be allowed to operate.
“I think what’s being proposed tonight is overly restrictive,” said Councilman Robert Garcia. “We are talking about patients, and these are people that have been prescribed medicine and they have a right to access that medicine.”
|Photo: Robert Garcia|
|Robert Garcia, Long Beach City Council: “We are talking about patients, and these are people that have been prescribed medicine and they have a right to access that medicine”|
The Council voted 7-2 to rewrite the law it had approved in March, adding to existing rules that already included bans on dispensaries operating near schools, in residential areas or within 1,000 feet of each other, and a requirement that collectives must grow their marijuana within city limits.
Supporting a compromise suggested by Garcia, the Council added several new rules, based on the stricter proposal that had been supported by Council members Gary DeLong, Gerrie Schipske and Patrick O’Donnell.
Under the new restrictions adopted Tuesday night:
• Dispensaries must give audited financial statements and their annual state sales tax reports to the city
• Shops can only be open fro 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily (this is a change from the original proposal that collectives be required to close at 5 p.m.)
• A 45-day public review period will be followed by a hearing in front of the council for new dispensary applications, rather than just a public hearing
• No dispensaries will be allowed within 1,000 feet of parks
• Security cameras will be required on the outside of dispensary buildings
• A one-year moratorium on new dispensaries will go into effect
• Collective operators must sign a statement acknowledging that the Council could change the rules for medical marijuana at any time
|Photo: Signal Tribune|
|James Johnson, Long Beach City Council: This asshat thinks the rules still aren’t strict enough|
Council members Patrick O’Donnell and James Johnson voted against the new restrictions, because they thought the rules weren’t strict enough. Johnson claimed he feared that without limiting the number of dispensaries, certain parts of the city might end of with a “proliferation” of the shops.
“I just don’t think it’s fair for certain parts of the city to bear the potential burden of potential nuisance activity while others don’t,” Johnson claimed. Seems the man has a lot of “potentials,” don’t you think?
Under the original, stricter proposal by O’Donnell, DeLong and Schipske, dispensaries would have been allowed to grow marijuana only in industrial areas; wouldn’t have been allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of libraries, child-care centers and parkjs; and would have been limited to 18 operations citywide and two per Council district.
That proposal also would have given dispensaries being forced to close because of the new rules 60 days to resubmit an application for an allowed location, but this wasn’t included in the approved changes.
Tuesday night’s action requires the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office to rewrite the ordinance, but the Council will have to vote on it two more times, giving them two more chances to fine-tune the law.
Dispensary operators had already threatened to file a lawsuit if the Council changed the ordinance, which took months of work and debate for the council to finalize. That potential legal action had been one of the concerns of some Council members going into the meeting.
Presumably the city may at least face fewer lawsuits than if the originally proposed, stricter changes to the law had been approved.
But one question that concerned Council member Rae Gabelich was how the city will reimburse the dispensaries for their permit fees, which were $14,700 for a single collective, but increased to $25,000 for those having a separate cultivation site.
Long Beach officials used that marijuana permit revenue — more than $700,000 — to help end the last fiscal year with a balanced budget.
“We couldn’t tell you tonight where the money would come from on that,” City Manager Pat West told the Council.
The new rules got mixed reviews from dispensary operators after Tuesday night’s meeting. While some were relieved that their shops won’t be affected, others feared that more changes are coming.
“They can just keep doing it and doing it until there’s no one left,” said Judi Farris, who runs Long Beach Natural Solutions. “Some of them just don’t understand that the patients are really ill.”