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City of Long Beach just became one step closer to legalizing recreational use of marijuana

Over 100 business in the process of obtaining a medical marijuana license from the city of Long Beach.

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

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Residents may see clouds of a different kind in the near future, as the Long Beach City Council moved to pass a new ordinance allowing the sale and recreational use of marijuana.

While medicinal use is legal within the city, commercial sale and use of marijuana is illegal. The council approved a motion to draft an ordinance making commercial marijuana legal for those on Tuesday night in a 5-3 vote.

Susan Soares, executive director of Cannabis Awareness Research and Economics, said her mission is to advocate for and educate individuals about cannabis. Soares wants Long Beach to set an example for other neighboring cities.

“Cannabis saved my life,” Soares said. “It’s time for Long Beach to be a leader, let’s not look at what the other cities are doing, let’s lead California.”

Passed by the state legislature in June, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act looks to tax and regulate marijuana statewide. California will begin to issue marijuana business licenses beginning Jan. 1 2018 in cities where commercial marijuana is legal.

The Long Beach City Council was tasked with approving one of two options regarding the “adult-use” of marijuana. One option was to make commercial marijuana illegal and the second option was to allow the retail sale and distribution of marijuana.

Council members Daryl Supernaw, Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo all voted against the approval of adult-use marijuana.

District 3 Council member Suzie Price, did not feel comfortable moving forward to draft the ordinance until multiple medical marijuana businesses are established in the city.

“The process itself has had some uncertainties with many requests for clarifications along the way,” Price said. “It would be my recommendation to my colleagues that we explicitly continue the ban and revisit this issue after all 32 [Maximum amount of dispensaries allowed] are opened and operating.”

“These businesses have been heavily vetted by the city and should be able to co-locate with adult use,” said Matt Bell, executive vice president of United Food and Commercial Workers 324, a non-profit organization that represents workers in California. “The two medical cannabis businesses that have opened are also creating good sustainable jobs, healthcare and pension for the employees and their families.”

District 6 councilmember Dee Andrews said he believes that people have voiced what they want when it comes to marijuana.

“I think it’s clear voters have supported the issue of adult use,” Andrews said. “The longer we wait the more it’s going to encourage illegal behavior. Right now we have a chance to set ourselves above everyone else because of what the citizens have said.”

Ballot Measure MM, which focused on the regulation aspect of marijuana businesses passed last year in November with 51.13 percent yes votes verses 35.21 percent no votes. Measure MA, which focused on taxing marijuana, passed with over 60 percent of votes in favor.

Voters will have to wait for a draft, as the council will not meet again until after Thanksgiving.

 

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