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Long Beach Medical Marijuana Law Would Spread Out Collectives

The General

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A medical marijuana law that balances patient access and neighborhood safety is proving a hard balance to strike in this city. Next month, the Planning Commission will view a new draft ordinance allowing a limited number of cannabis collectives that features "cascading" zoning to prevent locations from being concentrated in the industrial zones of West, North and Central Long Beach. Industrial areas were the preferred site of collectives when the City Council charged commissioners with coming up with a medical marijuana ordinance to replace the one an appeals court struck down in 2011.

However, the commission has struggled to find space for collectives since some council districts have no industrial zones and the council asked for two locations per district and no more than 18 locations citywide. Department of Development Services planner Jeff Winklepleck said the zoning, requested by commissioners earlier this month, would look to place collectives in industrial areas and if those zones are unavailable, progress to regional-highway districts and then community-oriented highway districts. "The cascading would take it from the most intense type of commercial use going down to the least," said Winklepleck. "That's the general concept."

Planning commissioners are expected to view the updated zoning during their second meeting of the month, on Aug. 21. Commissioners will also finalize a list of items related to the ordinance that will be submitted to the City Council for clarification. The city banned collectives of more than three persons in February 2012. It was fully implemented in August that year.

In preparation for a possible new ordinance, voters in April approved a measure allowing Long Beach to tax medical marijuana sales and businesses if the city rescinds its ban and adopts new regulatory rules. Versions of the law considered by the Planning Commission this year have combined licensing requirements, buffers and other standards to control marijuana operations. Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, speaking at the Planning Commission meeting on July 17, said a new local law would place a "substantial burden" on already strained police resources.

The last time the city allowed 18 collectives to operate, the number open swelled to 50, according to McDonnell. "We're approaching two years since the citywide ban went into effect and three dispensaries remain open," said McDonnell. Jina Nam, an attorney representing most of the collectives that were permitted by the city, said opponents of expanding access for patients should move beyond "rhetoric."

She labeled efforts to pass a new ordinance a mixed bag. "On the one hand, I do think that the city has been earnestly sitting down and trying to come up with a workable ordinance," said Nam. But the original City Council action calling for updated rules was in December, she said. "We're now in July and nowhere near completion of this task at all," Nam said. "We're extremely frustrated at the pace."


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Presstelegram.com
Author: Eric Bradley
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Long Beach medical marijuana law would spread out collectives
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