Now that Long Beach has settled the issue of medical marijuana, leaders Tuesday will turn to an even thornier question of whether to allow commercial sales of recreational pot.
Long Beach joins a long list of other cities grappling with the issue after California voters passed Prop. 64 in November 2016. On Jan. 1, the first state licenses will be issued for every type of marijuana business, from cultivators of medical cannabis to distributors of recreational marijuana — but only if local jurisdictions allow it.
The Long Beach City Council has two options on Tuesday: Direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance banning the retail sale, cultivation, distribution and laboratory testing of adult-use marijuana; or request the city manager develop a policy to allow it, and put on hold any sales until that process is complete.
Staff offers no recommendation, but outlines a number of issues that need to be resolved if the city wants to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, including the number of dispensaries that would be allowed, where they would be allowed and what requirements might be imposed.
Staff also recommends that if the city allows recreational marijuana, these businesses should “co-locate” with establishments that are licensed to sell medical marijuana. After years of debate and legal wrangling — and ultimately after local voters passed a law in November 2016 allowing the sale of medical marijuana — Long Beach recently has begun doling out permits for addresses where medical marijuana dispensaries can open.
Long Beach’s first licensed medical marijuana dispensary opened in late September. A maximum of 32 medical marijuana dispensaries could open in Long Beach, under the voter-passed law.
The city also anticipates more concrete direction from the state of California later this month, when specific rules and regulations regarding recreational marijuana are expected to be released.
Update on nearby cities
Like Long Beach, the Signal Hill City Council will take up the issue of recreational marijuana on Tuesday. Staff there is recommending prohibiting all commercial marijuana activities, along with outdoor cultivation.
Lakewood, Cerritos and Downey have already prohibited the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana in their jurisdictions.
Carson and Bellflower, however, have agreed to allow sales of recreational marijuana in some form.
Carson made the decision to open its doors to commercial marijuana growing, testing and manufacturing during a special meeting Thursday. The City Council also approved licensing door-to-door delivery operations and added restrictions on personal-use cultivation allowed by the state beginning Jan. 1, requiring random home inspections.
Council members in Carson stopped short of approving marijuana dispensaries, but agreed to allow four locations in the city for indoor commercial operations including growing and manufacturing of oils, waxes and edibles.
Bellflower, meanwhile, is already accepting applications for recreational cannabis store permits. The city passed an ordinance this summer that would allow up to 12 licenses for dispensaries, cultivators and processors.
The Long Beach City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.
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