Long Beach officials this week will take their first crack at a new policy that would govern the sale and use of recreational marijuana, including retail businesses, cultivation sites and processing facilities in the city.

The City Council late last year enacted a 180-day moratorium on all adult-use cannabis operations to give officials time to analyze a new state law that allowed such businesses, and identify where those businesses might be appropriate in Long Beach, among other issues.

Leaders have signaled they are open to allowed recreational sales and cultivation; the council voted in November to explore a policy after a voter-referendum passed in 2016 allowing up to 32 medical marijuana dispensaries in Long Beach, taking the decision out of the hands of elected leaders.

At the time, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson noted that the if the city failed to enact any policy on recreational marijuana, voters may again take action on their own.

“If we don’t take decisive action to own this issue and create public policy that’s right for our city now,” he said in November, “we could very well be in a position where folks are going to the ballot next year.”

New policy

Recommendations by city staff will go before the Planning Commission on Thursday before making their way to City Council sometime this summer.

The recommendations offer definitions of adult-use dispensaries, cannabis cultivation sites, cannabis manufacturing and processing centers, cannabis distribution and cannabis testing sites.

As with medical marijuana, none of the businesses would be allowed in residential, institutional or park areas of the city, according to a staff report.

Dispensaries and testing sites would be allowed in areas zoned for commercial use, as well as some industrial areas. Cultivation, manufacturing and distribution business would allowed only industrial areas.

Also, similar to regulations for medical marijuana, the businesses would have to be located at least 1,000 feet from a public or private school or a public beach, and at least 600 feet from a public park or public library.

Strict requirements would also be imposed on marijuana facilities to ensure safe handling and storage, employee health, product regulation (testing and quality assurance), packaging and other issues.

The Long Beach Planning Commission will discuss the issue at its regular meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday in council chambers, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.

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