Long Beach unsure how to proceed with taxing medical marijuana dispensaries


D. Ramey Logan.

Since September, Long Beach city officials have been working on officially allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the southern California city. They’re just not clear on exactly how to do it.

According to the Press-Telegram,
Long Beach City Attorney Charles Parkin says he has concerns with the legality of a current proposal that limits dispensaries to industrial zones, with no more than two dispensaries allowed in each city district.

Parkin says the amount of industrial land in the city isn’t distributed equally across all of the districts, meaning there could be a glut of unused space in one area that could otherwise accommodate more dispensaries while other districts could have dispensaries shoehorning in on scarcely available space. Some districts, including Central Long Beach, don’t have any industrial areas.
Parkin says that because of those restrictions, along with 1,500 foot buffers with schools and daycares and a 1,000 foot buffer between dispensaries would mean that only two districts out of nine total would have the maximum two dispensaries.
Because of that, Parkin says he’ll be asking for guidance at the Long Beach city council meeting this Tuesday.
Long Beach Councilwoman Suja Lowenthall says that regardless of the plan, she will ask the city attorney to draft a ballot measure for the April primary that would require a minimum $1,000 city business license and a 6 percent sales tax on medical pot sales.
City officials say that the taxes are on par with other licenses in the city that currently generate as much as $11 million annually for the city’s general fund.
“The upcoming … election presents the city with an opportunity to remedy a gap in the city’s business tax law, while obtaining badly needed general fund revenue,” Lowenthal wrote in a memorandum last week.