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Snoop has been a long-time advocate for cannabis legalisation and one of the most prominent and vocal personalities in the cannabis world. After a legal tug-of-war lasting years, thanks in part to Snoop’s involvement, Long Beach California may be able to open its first medical cannabis dispensaries. In early November 2016, a city vote will take place to decide on several initiatives related to marijuana. This will include state wide effort to legalize -not just medicinal marijuana- but recreational cannabis too.
This initiative is filed under ‘proposition 64’. There are two relevant measures on the ballot: Measure MM and Measure MA. Measure MM is the most important, this is the one put forward to allow for the opening, maintenance, and regulation of medical cannabis dispensaries. Measure MA is a measure to change the tax structure of measure MM. Measure MA will effectively allow for higher taxation of recreational use.
The city itself does have a history of support for medical marijuana, and California is known worldwide as being central to the cannabis community. However, the mayor’s office recently came under scrutiny for neglecting their duty to give a balanced view of, and dispel misconceptions regarding, the propositions being bought forward.
In 2010, the city held a lottery style raffle to give 30 permits out to dispensaries. There were many accusations of corruption when the lottery style machine appeared to malfunction, and winners were instead chosen simply by picking balls out of a bin. When the results were drawn, a wealthy business man with connections to government officials came out of the lottery with 5 permits. This is more than any other group were legally allowed, leading to more accusations of corruption over the suspicious outcome.
Not long after the lottery, the City of Long Beach was taken to court and sued over the ordinance in state court. Due to this decision they were forced to shut down the dispensaries, and eventually decided it best to shut down all but a few stores, with the help of the local DEA. Since then, medical marijuana patients have only been able to acquire their medicine from a number of unregulated delivery services.
Measure MM, if voted in and approved, will return the legal sale of medicinal marijuana within long beach for the first time in years. There will be stringent regulations in place to ensure that limits are set as to how far the dispensaries must be from parks, schools, and other such places. Many of the dispensaries that gained a permit previously in 2010 will be prioritised in the application process. Only around 30 dispensaries are being given a permit initially. If the proposition is approved, cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis would be legalised, but regulated and taxed accordingly.
For the transportation, testing and distribution of cannabis related businesses, there will also be an annual tax of $1000. With an 8-12 % tax to be put in on recreational cannabis depending on which measures are approved. But with the voter information guide containing more than 200 pages, with many residents said to have not received it altogether, there has been an exceptional amount of confusion between the two measures being proposed (MM/MA). Again, the City of Long Beach are failing on their duties as public servants and many people are still confused about what exactly is being proposed.
Proposition 64 isn’t perfect; it could certainly be much less confusing and if it were up to us we would scrap the taxation, permits, licensing and all the rest of the unnecessary regulatory nonsense that comes with it. But unfortunately, we aren’t yet in a position to be too picky about the smaller details. What matters right now is that medical patients get access to medicine. It’s literally that simple. Thankfully, there are others involved who understand this urgency. Reberto Uranga, a city council member, has spoken publicly about his personal experience of medical cannabis. He spoke openly of the immense benefits it provided to his wife, following a cancer diagnosis.
We can only speculate as to why the city has put so many barriers in front of its own citizens, who are clearly keen to gain access to cannabis. However, given the city’s previous history in regards to medical marijuana, we can only hope that a fair vote takes place, with voters being given all the correct information to make a well informed judgement. As Rep. Lowenthal has stated previously “the time is right to repeal the ban on medical marijuana on long beach”.
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