Daily 49er

Community discusses Long Beach Measure MM

Community panel discussed benefits of medical marijuana.

Elizabeth Campos, Staff Writer

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Supporters of the legalization of medical marijuana held a forum at The Point inside the Walter Pyramid Tuesday night.

Proponents of Long Beach Measure MM, which will be on the November ballot, establishes regulations to permit the sale of medical marijuana in Long Beach.

The panel included Adam Hijazi, a board member for the Long Beach Collective Association and Jeffrey Ostriker, who researches medical properties of cannabis.

Retired members of the Long Beach Police Department, Randy Hausauer and Mike Schaich, and John Getz from United Food and Commercial Workers were also part of the panel.

The panel was introduced by Tonia Reyes, a Long Beach community member who helped raise 35,000 signatures in support of Measure MM.

Reyes also opened up the discussion by explaining what Measure MM is and how it gives patients access to an alternative medicine.

The measure establishes regulations that permit the sale of medical marijuana in Long Beach to patients who have doctor recommendations to use it. It also mandates dispensaries to test medical marijuana before it’s sold to ensure it won’t harm the patient.

Ostriker, who is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, said that what sparked his interest in researching cannabis and its medicinal uses was his own chronic bone disease.

He also said that if medicinal marijuana is the only effective way for some patients to treat their pain, it should be at the patient’s disposal.

“I’m actively trying to teach doctors and other clinicians in cannabis,” he said.

Hausauer shared a more personal story, explaining how his sister was recommended to use oxycontin to treat cancer symptoms which led her to addiction and ultimately death.

“There’s an alternative [medicine], and people in the U.S. and particularly Long Beach ought to have access” he said.

The discussion then shifted into questioning how medical marijuana will work as a business in Long Beach.

Hijazi explained that the efforts to make medicinal marijuana legal started in 2011, but there was no bridge between the community and the initiative at the moment.

“We feel like this is a really strong initiative,” he said.

He also explained that Measure MM deals solely with medicinal use of marijuana. In addition, Measure MM established regulations in regard to not having dispensaries near schools or parks to protect minors.

In addition to the location of dispensaries, another topic related to minors was whether Measure MM would make marijuana more accessible to them.

Dr. Ostriker answered the question by clarifying that people, including minors, need to see a doctor to ultimately get a prescription. He also said that the amount of marijuana a person can purchase at once is limited.

Schaich followed the discussion by saying that he thinks marijuana is much more accessible for minors through the black market. He said that a lot of them buy in the streets, from people they don’t know and that that poses more danger than regulated dispensaries.

One of the last topics discussed before opening the floor to the audience was whether the marijuana from dispensaries and from drug dealers get the user high.

Ostriker explained that there are psychoactive compounds in marijuana that get a person high. But, it’s actually other characteristics of marijuana that help with patients’ pain.

When opening up the discussion to members of the audience, the questions ranged from who will be regulating the industry to whether growers and cultivators will be taxed.

Hausauer thinks that forums like this are necessary to get people together and encourage them think about important issues, such as medicinal marijuana.

“As divided as we are as a country, we should figure out what we have in common” he said.

Reyes said she thinks that the fact that this initiative made it to the ballot is proof of democracy in action and the importance of citizen’s involvement. She said that forums like this help clarify the uses of medicinal marijuana and erase the stigma surrounding it.

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