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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why I am Voting to Ban Medical Marijuana Collectives and Dispensaries

After careful research and reviewing the advice of the Long Beach City Attorney, I am voting in support of banning medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries in the City of Long Beach. This council directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance to ban collectives in response to the ruling of the court. We did so in October. This just didn’t pop up.

First of all – I recognize the rights of those with medical problems to use medical marijuana. And nothing we do tonight will take away the rights of qualified persons to grow or have their legitimate caregiver grow medical marijuana for their use.

But there is nothing in law that requires the city to facilitate commercial operations of collectives. This city attempted to regulate collectives and the court has now told us that we cannot do so.

Second of all – as a city council, we have been informed by our legal advisor – who under our city charter is the only legal advisor to the city council – that we can no longer allow these entities in our city. We have been informed by our Chief of Police that their hands are tied if we continue to allow these collectives without regulation.

The people here tonight present some compelling arguments for not moving forward – but I have – this council has a legal responsibility to comply with legal direction from our city attorney and to not tie the hands of our police. Both have told us that to do nothing is not appropriate.

We are asked constantly why we can’t allow pharmacies to sell marijuana – it is because it is an illegal drug under federal law.

Like it or not, alcohol is legal – and is regulated by state and federal law – and quite honestly, we cannot locally regulate alcohol. We can regulate the hours and conditions under which it is sold and that is it.

People mention tobacco – this council has banned public smoking… and plastic bags because of health and safety concerns.

But here’s my dilemma – do I dismiss what the city’s law enforcement and legal advisors say I need to do?

On the other hand, I hear the real appeals of those who use this substance. But I am also concerned that state law is very clear that only a primary caregiver can provide marijuana if not grown by the qualified person – and that the primary caregiver has to have provided housing, health and safety prior to providing marijuana. These collectives do not do this. So how is it that we can allow them?

I would urge anyone here tonight or listening to this meeting that if you do not like the outcome of the vote that you take action and do a referendum. City law provides that voters can gather signatures to overturn any vote taken by the city council.

Save Station 18

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