Commentary: Doing the Right Thing on Medical Marijuana in Long Beach

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councilmember Robert Garcia on Medical Marijuana in Long Beach

Councilmember Robert Garcia explains his views on the balance between public safety and patient access for medical marijuana.

Dear Friends:

Last night, the City Council took the responsible approach by directing the City Manager to return in March with a Multi-Year Police Academy recruitment plan. As chair of the Public Safety Committee, I believe that we need to increase our force, but also do so in a fiscally responsible way. I want to thank Councilman James Johnson for his support in moving this issue forward.

In addition, I want to thank the Council for supporting our proposal to ban commercial medical marijuana operations — with a temporary exemption for those collectives that have been operating in good faith.

This means that starting today, our Long Beach Police Department, and our City Attorney and Prosecutor, can begin the process of shutting down the more than 35 illegal collectives operating in Long Beach. 

As you may be aware, a recent Court order — now under review by the California Supreme Court —€“ threw out most of our City’€™s medical marijuana ordinance. That forced the City to choose between banning all storefront dispensaries, or allowing them to operate without any oversight, including for fire and electrical safety. That was something I could not support; the City has a duty to make sure all businesses and buildings operate in a safe, legal manner.

However, as you know, I have always been a supporter of access to medical marijuana for qualified patients. That’€™s why I supported to have those locations that have complied with our City’€™s ordinance (between 18 – 20) collectives to remain open for at least the next six months — a fair amount of time for their members to find alternate means of obtaining medicine. Before the six months elapse, the Council will again deliberate the issue, and if these operators have avoided being a nuisance and have complied with State and local laws, then they will be eligible for an extension.

Last night’€™s vote accomplishes several important things. First, it gives our police the power to immediately enforce the City’€™s laws and begin shutting down the locations that have ignored our City’€™s ordinance and flagrantly broken the law. This process won’€™t be complete overnight, but our police now have the tools they need to get rid of the bad neighbors that some of these dispensaries have been.

Second, we have protected patient access. However, until Federal Law changes to recognize the medical benefits of marijuana, patients’ access will never be completely secure. That’€™s why I was glad to support Councilmember James Johnson’€™s motion to amend our City’€™s Federal Legislative agenda by adding support for rescheduling marijuana, so that it can be prescribed legally by doctors. Taking this position was the third important accomplishment last night, and is a great step forward for patients’ rights.

The medical marijuana issue is far from over. The California Supreme Court, as well as possibly the Federal Courts and Congress, will have to sort it out, and that may take years. In the meantime, I will continue to do all I can to protect patient access, while ensuring our City is able to take care of its most basic job: Keeping our community safe.

Lastly, I want to thank our City Attorney Bob Shannon, and our City Prosecutor Doug Haubert for their advice and assistance on this important and complex issue.

Go Long Beach,
Robert Garcia
First District Council Member 


2 Responses to “Commentary: Doing the Right Thing on Medical Marijuana in Long Beach”
  1. Leo says:

    Robert… with all due respect, you must be or are probably writing this letter because you clandestinely met with and accepted doing a favor for Robert Shannon when there were signals that the FULL ban was not going to pass. Shannon wrote the language BEFORE the meeting as if he had a crystal ball.

    Now thats unethical.

    About the poor non-lottery collectives… what you have done is discriminate. They are patient collectives and CRIME has not increased but decreased since collectives have been in town….hence the absence of hard facts and confirmed data by the Chief. Only hyperbole and hearsay stereo typical to our industry.

    Those non-lotterycollectives are contributors to charity, they patronize and have befriended businesses and neighbors. They occupy vacant locations and invest a fortune with local contractors and supply providersto fux tgese lications and make them showcases of cleanliness, decency, dignity and beauty.

    They are run by mom and pops like you and i. Not criminals.

    You may not be aware of the terror and stormtrooper violence that the LBPD has inflicted on these poor collectives and patients the last two years without search warrants .

    You have brought this terror once again to these patients.

    The lottery winning collectives have been dancing on the graves of the non-lottery participants. The non lottery shops many of them submitted or tried submitting applications that were thrown in the waste basket by Erik Sund. Many never had a chance. The others actually did win the lotto but were kicked out later and their fees still not refunded.

    This is an attrocity.

    I hope and pray to the Lord that tge coming deluge of litigation against you and tge city give some relief and restitution to tgese poor long suffering segment of Long Beach citizens.

  2. AFH says:

    The voter initiative Regulate Marijuana Like Wine ends this insanity and creates an instant framework for solving all of these problems safely. The approach makes great sense, we are already familiar with it as a model for keeping kids away from adult discretionary activity. That’s really the biggest concern any of us have.

    It would be great to have that many hundreds of millions of dollars in our state and local coffers instead of billions put in the hands of criminals and murderous cartels that our laws now support.

    A poll on the initiatives was recently released. 62% of likely California voters vote YES to Regulate Marijuana Like Wine!