The patchwork of medical marijuana regulation in California has revealed deep divisions on the question of how best to ensure the drug is accessible to those who need it, while balancing the interests of communities vying to limit its availability.
This conflict was recently revealed in a split vote by the Long Beach City Council, which after sharp debate, split the baby, so to speak. The council decided that while they would ban brick-and-mortar dispensaries – for now – they will allow marijuana delivery services directly to qualified patients.
Meanwhile, advocates of storefront dispensaries have a pending lawsuit against the city, which is slated to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in February. Plaintiffs want to put a measure on the ballot so voters can decide whether to approve storefront marijuana operations. Specifically, the pending action asks the court to decide whether the city clerk can certify the ballot measure to the council.
The Long Beach assistant city attorney has expressed confidence the appellate court will rule in favor of the city, taking the position that an identical ballot measure already proposed – and shot down – for a previous election couldn’t be considered in any upcoming elections.
If the city wins, then the measure is dropped. If the marijuana advocates are victorious, however, council would then have to decide whether to simply approve the measure as proposed. If they chose not to do so, the issue would go before the voters for the final say.
When the council considered giving the green light to storefront operations, one council member proposed adopting a measure that would implement approval in phases. That way, the city wouldn’t be grappling with a multitude of issues at once.This approach would start with just four providers granted permission solely for home deliveries. The issue could be reevaluated within a set time frame.
Long Beach banned marijuana collectives three years ago after concluding any return on investment the city made by allowing it would be eaten up by the police resources and overhead costs of regulation. With this proposed alternative, the council contends direct-to-patient deliveries will allow sick patients to receive the drug, while sidestepping some of the troubles they say storefronts are known to bring.
Our marijuana lawyers in Los Angeles know the fears regarding storefront operations have been shown to be mostly unfounded. With adequate security and fair regulation, these facilities provide a valuable service to patients and don’t place undue burdens on the communities they serve.
City council voted to approve the delivery-only proposal in a split 5-4 vote. The operation would be reevaluated by council within six months. Lawmakers have requested the completion of detailed reports on enforcement costs, sales tax receipts and other issues. Council will then determine at that point whether they will allow any storefront operations to become established within city limits. That determination will take into account the demand for such services, though the city has already pre-determined it will allow no more than seven dispensaries to take root.
It’s not immediately clear when the delivery services will begin, though we do know that if storefront operations are approved, it would take about a year before any opened their doors.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Long Beach’s new medical marijuana law is delivery-only, Dec. 8, 2015, By Andrew Edwards, Press-Telegram
More Blog Entries:
Delays in Medical Marijuana Programs Harm Patients- Will Emergency Access Be Granted? Nov. 11, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog