3:30pm | On January 18, the city council intends to go forward with further restricting the medical-marijuana ordinance that has been in effect for only seven months.
The councilmembers in favor of tightened restrictions—most vociferously led by DeLong, O'Donnell, and Schipske—will tell you that they are acting at the benefit and behest of their respective constituencies.
But when you examine Long Beach's voting record concerning Proposition 19, the midterm elections ballot initiative that would have legalized the use and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes, you pretty quickly see that this must be false.
As documented by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorded/County Clerk, i Long Beach residents voted to allow sales for recreational use by a vote of 57,782 to 50,925. As far Measure B, which asked if Long Beach should get into the game if Prop. 19 passed, residents voted in favor of that 74,764 to 27,959.
It goes without saying that more people are in favor of allowing marijuana to be used only for medical use than recreationally, and so when confronted with these numbers, we have to wonder how councilmembers can be claiming their actions to further restrict the availability of medical marijuana comport with the will of their constituency when the majority of residents who have bothered to participate in the democratic process on the subject have gone on record saying that marijuana should be sold in Long Beach even recreationally.
Not all council districts voted Yes on 19. Steve Neal's 9th District voted 4,146 in favor to 4,410 against, but since Neal has never favored further restrictions, he seems to acknowledge that his constituents likewise do not favor them.
But faced with the same data, 7th District Councilmember James Johnson is not willing to acknowledge this. Although 49.5% of his constituents (and 53.2% of Long Beach residents) voted in favor of complete legalization of marijuana, Johnson has pushed to limit the number of collectives dispensing marijuana for medicinal use to two per district.
Coming out most heavily against Prop. 19 was Gerrie Schipske's 5th District, which voted No by a margin of 11,585 to 9,784. But again, this was for out-and-out legalization, which would suggest that even her district probably does not favor draconian restrictions on medpot. And as you may recall, Schipske's own survey found "overwhelming" resident disapproval of the council's making further restrictions to Long Beach's current medpot law. All other council district voted Yes on legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Noteworthy among these:
- Even though Suja Lowenthal has been a huge disappointment to the medpot community, her 2nd District is the most pro-legalization district in the city, voting Yes by more than a 2-to-1 margin (7,889 to 3,764).
- Of the DeLong-O'Donnell-Schipske team that spearheaded tightening the city's medpot restrictions, only Gary DeLong's office could produce documentation supporting a claim to have received a great deal of anti-medpot correspondence. Nonetheless, his 3rd District voted in favor of legalization 12,281 to 10,177.
- Regarding medpot, Patrick O'Donnell has bluntly said, "I don't want it in my backyard. I don't want it in my front yard. […] I just don't want it [anywhere]." ii His 4th District constituents, however, feel quite differently, voting in favor of Prop. 19 by a whopping 10 percentage points (6,244 to 5,070).
There are lots of reasons that our councilmembers should not be voting to further restrict the City's medpot guidelines. As good as any of them is that, if our votes are any indication, we the people simply do not want them to.