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Long Beach medical marijuana initiative couldn’t deliver

Medical marijuana delivery services cannot operate in Long Beach.

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Long Beach medical marijuana initiative couldn’t deliver

A patient sparks a medical marijuana joint to help ease her migraine.

A patient sparks a medical marijuana joint to help ease her migraine.

Lalig Tarbinian | Daily 49er

A patient sparks a medical marijuana joint to help ease her migraine.

Lalig Tarbinian | Daily 49er

Lalig Tarbinian | Daily 49er

A patient sparks a medical marijuana joint to help ease her migraine.

Taryn Sauer, Staff Writer

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The days when you could go from doing yoga on the bluff, ride your bike to pick up homemade hummus from the Farmer’s Market at Cherry Park and swing by one of the 10 marijuana dispensaries lining Broadway before heading back to your studio apartment in the East Village are gone. Now, Long Beach locals must travel to Compton, Torrance or Huntington Beach to purchase medical marijuana in lieu of the ease of that green era.

Long Beach could have secured four medical marijuana delivery service collectives, but Long Beach City council members voted down the initiative 9-0 Feb. 2 and local marijuana business owners are already feeling the consequences.

Councilwoman Suzie Price of the Long Beach City Council’s Third District proposed the initiative, continuing to rally for its approval since the 5-4 vote against the possibility of nine

Different strains of medical marijuana are on display at dispensaries for patients with chronic pain.

Lalig Tarbinian | Daily 49er
Different strains of medical marijuana are on display at dispensaries for patients with chronic pain.

delivery operations put forward last December.

With the number of operations reduced to four, the measure was met with much opposition from Price’s fellow councilmembers. One of the most vocal critics was District 9 Councilman Rex Richardson, who said the plan lacked sensibility in its very foundation.

“The original intent was to put forth sound public policy and actually take a step in that direction and that is just not what is happening,” he said. “I think what is happening here is a waste of time and resources.”

His main argument was against the fiscal impact upon the city in relation to the measure’s timely output of confirmed operations.

According to the City Attorney, Charles Parkin, it would have cost the city $3 million to authorize and implement physical delivery organizations, and would not break even until about seven were allowed to operate. Long Beach residents would not even see such a service available until March 2019, with only one of the 400 applicants allowed to begin operation until further surveillance of its impact could be observed.

Several Long Beach residents echoed Richardson’s dissatisfaction with the plan during the council meeting.  

One medical marijuana activist, Jeff Abrams, expressed disappointment with the council continuing to “kick the can down the road,” stressing the tug-of-war that is marijuana’s credibility in the political arena and advocating for the validity of cannabis in alleviating patients’ ailments.

“For one second, think patients’ needs, not stoners’ needs,” he said.

Abrams was the owner of One Love Beach Club on Broadway, which operated under measure 5.89, banning marijuana collectives except for a few exceptions. Abrams saw his shop raided and was was ordered to vacate the facility last Wednesday, the day after the delivery service measure was denied.

Other business owners, like ex-national football player Kyle Turley of Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, saw potential in the measure.

“The fact that we’re having this [debate] in California is quite archaic,” he said. “[But] there’s something on the ballot to be put in place — that something is better than nothing.”

Despite these advocates, medical marijuana storefront and delivery services remain banned in Long Beach since 5.89 passed in 2012.

A patient sparks a medical marijuana joint to help ease her migraine.

A patient sparks a medical marijuana joint to help ease her migraine.

Pre-ban, Long Beach saw an immediate increase of 50 dispensaries within its unsanctioned borders once President Obama said in 2009 that the DEA would no longer conduct raids on a national level. Deeming this number uncontrollable, the city passed measure 5.89 that declared medical marijuana to be “a public nuisance.”

It stripped all licensed businesses of their legality except a handful selected through a lottery system.

There are currently 15 medical marijuana operations in Long Beach.

Long Beach has yet to create a consistent template for operating medical marijuana in either brick-and-mortar storefronts or delivery service collectives. There are no new measures on the table for discussion just yet.

 

Cannabinoids off the marijuana plant include CBD and THC. CBD has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties without the high that THC provides.

Lalig Tarbinian | Daily 49er
Cannabinoids off the marijuana plant include CBD and THC. CBD has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties without the high that THC provides.

A cannabis plant makes more than just smokeable parts. Tea can be brewed from the leaves to help patients with their pain.

Lalig Tarbinian | Daily 49er
A cannabis plant makes more than just smokeable parts. Tea can be brewed from the leaves to help patients with their pain.

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