Dispensary Ban in Full Effect; Some Compliant, Some Not

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Yesterday the City of Long Beach joined the list of cities completely disallowing medical-marijuana dispensaries—or even patient collectives of more than three persons—as the temporary exemptions granted to approximately 18 dispensaries officially expired.

But while some medpot patients found their dispensaries closed Monday, others would never have guessed from the looks of things that anything had changed.

Among the former category are the members of the Long Beach Collective Association, who announced late last week their intent to comply with the ban while they seek legal remedy from the courts.

"As the scheduled ban on Long Beach medical marijuana dispensaries takes effect tomorrow, members of the Long Beach Collective Association (LBCA) are closing their doors," reads a press release by the group. "But if all goes according to their plans, the shut down won’t last for long. Jina A. Nam, General Counsel for the LBCA filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief in L.A. County Superior Court’s South District Thursday seeking a stay on the City Council imposed ban."

The complaint comes on the heels of a Los Angeles Superior Court's granting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to keep the City of Long Beach from enforcing the ban against one dispensary, Eartheart of Long Beach, until an August 30 hearing on the matter.

“The argument we have made to the court is directed at the ordinance being preempted by state law,” Graham Berry, the attorney representing Eartheart, told the Gazette newspapers. “The judge has not adjudicated any claim against the ordinance in connection with collectives other than my clients. However, the same arguments that I made in connection with my client could probably be made by many of the other collectives, especially those that went through the lottery and permitting process.”

The LBCA expects their complaint to be joined to Eartheart's, and for their plaintiffs also to receive TROs against the City while the matter is adjudicated.

“While [the Eartheart] ruling was limited in scope to one collective, we will be asking the court to extend it to protect all qualified patients and collectives in Long Beach," says Nam. "Our case involves the same ban and thus the same irreparable harm exists if the ban is not stayed to protect all of them."

The City's ban may be on shaky ground to begin with, as since its February passage, two separate appeals courts—including the one with jurisdiction over Long Beach—have ruled similar bans to be in conflict with the Compassionate Use Act and thus violations of state law. The Gazette notes that Berry served as an attorney in both of these cases.

For several collectives that have ignored the ban from the outset, Monday was business as usual, with doors open and patients acquiring their medicine as usual. While the Press-Telegram reports that the majority of the collectives it surveyed are closed (though it appears they may have included LBCA in that survey), the Long Beach Post was able to verify multiple collectives as remaining open.

Not surprisingly, management members of these collectives were reluctant to comment, expressing their desire to stay "under the radar."

Tomorrow the Long Beach Post reports on a group of collectives members who want to gain as much attention—and support—as possible.

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[Note: The photo above is of sign on the door of Long Beach Collective Association member Long Beach Green Room informing patients of its compliance with the ban. Photo by Greggory Moore.]

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