Pubdate: Thu, 12 Sep 2013
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2013 Los Angeles Times
Author: Christine Mai-Duc


Long Beach city leaders have agreed to draft an ordinance that would 
allow and regulate medical marijuana collectives within the city, 
opening another chapter in the years-long saga over whether the city 
has the authority to control dispensaries.

In a unanimous vote, Long Beach City Council members directed the 
city attorney Tuesday to draft an ordinance that would once again 
allow a limited number of marijuana shops to operate within city limits.

The council debate came a day after a federal judge dealt a blow to a 
group seeking to overturn the city's medical marijuana ban through 
the ballot box.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins ruled Monday that Long Beach 
officials were not required to place a medical marijuana initiative 
on the city's April ballot, even though the initiative had gathered 
enough signatures to qualify, because the petition's language had not 
requested consideration for a general election.

City Council members had initially been expected to vote on a 
proposal to draft a medical marijuana initiative to be placed on the 
city's April ballot.

Instead, council members agreed to bypass an election and move 
forward with drafting a new zoning ordinance to regulate collectives, 
including caps on the number of dispensaries citywide and in each 
council districts, and restrictions that would confine them to areas 
zoned for industrial uses.

"Our city needs the same authority as other cities and states to 
regulate this substance in plain, public view," said Councilwoman 
Suja Lowenthal, one of the proposal's three sponsors.

City Atty. Charles Parkin said his office would proceed with caution, 
considering Long Beach's complicated legal battles in trying to 
regulate marijuana dispensaries in the past.

The city's initial ordinance, introduced by Lowenthal and passed in 
2009, created a lottery system for permits, and limited the number 
and location of storefront dispensaries.

Thirty-two dispensaries were selected in that lottery, but the 
process was halted when it was challenged in court.

A state appeals court ultimately threw out the ordinance, saying the 
city's regulations conflicted with federal law.

In response, the City Council opted to use zoning regulations to ban 
all collectives of three people or more.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom