Council Bans Medical Marijuana Collectives, Exempts 18

After a third round of discussion, and with every member present, the City Council voted to enact a citywide ban on medical marijuana collectives – although the council allowed for some wiggle room by declaring an exemption for 18 collectives that had gone through the city’s previous process. The City Council delayed a possible ban of collectives Jan. 17 because Vice Mayor and Second District Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal were absent – that was after a December delay because First District Councilman Robert Garcia was absent. The council was pressed into action because a court late last year had struck down its law that attempted to regulate medical marijuana collectives. Since then, the California Supreme Court has decided to take a look into the issue. Its decision is not expected for another 14 months, City Attorney Robert Shannon estimated. Until then, the City Council had to decide whether it wanted to ban collectives outright or continue forward with what Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and Shannon said was a blurry jurisdiction that could not be enforced.

“We’ve tried to do the right thing when it comes to this issue and it is an extremely complex issue,” Garcia said. “There is no question that there are bad neighbors causing major crime issues in front of some of these dispensaries. And that is at the front of this discussion as well.” Ultimately, Garcia offered the motion that passed. That law eliminates Long Beach’s medical marijuana ordinance 5.87 and instead puts a ban in its place. The caveat is that there is exemption language for the 18 collectives that made it through the city’s permitting process. Many of the members who were supporting the motion said that they wanted to work with those collectives that had been working with the city “in good faith.” The motion that passed 8-1 (Eighth District Councilwoman Rae Gabelich dissenting) will allow the exemption for six months, but also will allow the council to revisit the exemption within 120 days – where it could increase the extension, do nothing or limit the extension. The point of the language was to allow the Long Beach Police Department to start enforcing the ban against collectives that were never a part of the initial permitting process – rogue collectives, as many officials described them. “What it allows us to do is that we basically go from about 55 collectives that are out there, of which 30 or 35 are illegal, and reduce that number over the next six months to the 18 that were part of our legal process,” Garcia said.

Mayor Bob Foster and several others described the exemption as a “wind down” period for those collectives to prepare for possible closure and try to recoup any expenses – but the City Council did leave the door open for an extension of that time period. Gabelich initially asked for the time period to be until the Supreme Court came back with a decision, but she eventually withdrew her motion. Lowenthal proposed language – which was given to her by Long Beach Collective Association lobbyist Carl Kemp – that would issue a moratorium and use zoning laws to go after problem collectives, but that did not gain much traction with Shannon or the council, so it was withdrawn. The law is being declared immediately (with a second reading next meeting), and McDonnell, Shannon and City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said the vote would allow them to go after problem collectives right away. Haubert said he had about 100 misdemeanor criminal cases pending before the Pack ruling struck down Long Beach’s law. Shannon added that the quickest way to enforce the new ban likely would be through his office and with civil injunctions. An important component of the exemption was stated that the new law did not shield those 18 collectives from federal prosecution – marijuana is illegal in all forms federally – and the city was not condoning those 18 collectives.

via : gazettes

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