More On Medpot (But Not Much More) -- Updated!

It's a screw-in-the-lightbulb joke:

Q: How many councilmembers does it take to pass a good medpot ordinance?

A: Five, it turns out—Robert Garcia, Dee Andrews, Tonia Reyes Uranga, Rae Gabelich, and Val Lerch.

By no means has the cement dried, but now it has been poured, and a voting bloc of the aforesaid five is in position to keep Team Lowenthal-DeLong-O'Donnell-Schipske from writing into that lovely slab of legislative sidewalk anything offensive to patients' needs, to residents' rights, and/or to the use of city resources.

This will be a short column. I've written more on this subject than I would really care to; I'll be quite glad when there's no more need. But people ought to know who is willing and able to give our City and its citizens the kind of ordinance that will have (in the socio-politico-economic context of our time and place) the widest and deepest possible benefits for all of us; and who (in the service ideological or political fixations, which for some apparently outweigh compassionate and pragmatic concerns) is trying to give us something narrower and shallower.

6th District Councilmember Dee Andrews was absent at the last City Council meeting, and his absence resulted in a 4-4 deadlock over the issue of whether all medicinal marijuana must be grown within Long Beach—Team LowDeO'DSchip being so committed to this issue that if they couldn't get their way they'd try to force all collectives to grow all medicine on-site (thus critically reducing the availability of medicine for patients). Ugly.

I, for one, hadn't the slightest idea where Andrews would come down on this—or frankly, where he stood in regards to most aspects of medpot and the implementation of collectives. Would his well-known drug past impel him to tack conservative, no matter what he believed? Or would he be a realist who would regard that past as being the non-issue it is, not letting it interfere with his service to the community?

Prior to now he'd said almost nothing during City Council discussions on the subject. The one thing I did recall hearing him say seemed to indicate that his chief concern was to ensure that patients get the medicine they need. But people say all kinds of things.

However, while not one of Tuesday's most-vocal participants, Andrews said a lot more than he had previously—all of it good. He made crystal clear his belief that it is neither practical nor in the greatest service of patients to force collectives to cultivate all medicine in Long Beach (and of course he's right on both counts). Along with his cohort from the 1st/7th/8th/9th Districts, Andrews rejected Team LowDeO'DSchip's shot1 at passing the most-recent draft of the ordinance + the grow-in-LB requirement + some additional Tom Reeves suggestions (which at this point I don't pretend to understand (hey, it was a long meeting), except that they don't seem to be of issues of the greatest concern), then slam-dunked home a version sans both +s.

More is to be changed, more is to be resolved—members of Team GarAndUrGabLer raised several issues (e.g., yes on concentrates, no on restricting patients to membership in just one collective)—but if everyone holds form from here on out, we will have lain some solid ground on which to move forward, in the right direction.

If they'd scored, the stat sheet would have credited the assist to City Prosecutor Tom Reeves, City Attorney Robert Shannon, and Deputy Police Chief Bill Blair.

Update (2/5/10):

In what appears to be an 11th-hour effort to override the will of the majority of the City Council to allow medical marijuana for Long Beach collectives to be cultivated beyond city limits, a memo from City Attorney Robert Shannon informs the mayor and councilmembers that his office, "[a]fter conferring with the Mayor, [has] continued for one week the second reading of the proposed Medical Marijuana Ordinance
[so that] the City Council, on February 16, 2010, [can] hear testimony from the District Attorney's office and from one or more law enforcement experts, addressing concerns relating to the current proposal."

From this you'd think LBPD Sgt. Paul LeBaron was wrong when in Novemeber 2008 he shared with me his belief that "most officers would say they’d rather be paying attention to the crack dealer with a gun in his belt than medical marijuana." But he wasn't. In any case, if Team GarAndUrGabLer stays true, none of this matters. But it's not over until it's over.

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