A group of medical-marijuana advocates calling themselves Long Beach Collective Rights has submitted paperwork and is launching a campaign centering around a new proposed ballot measure that would override the city’s current ban on medical marijuana operations and instate a municipal code amendment regulating collectives and dispensaries.

The Long Beach Collective Rights Act of 2013 was created in response to the news last week that the City Clerk’s office announced that the Initiative Regulation of Medical Marijuana Collectives—which was turned into City Hall in February—failed to move forward to a special election on account of a lack of verified signatures.
Long Beach Collective Rights is not affiliated with the Long Beach Citizens’ and Patients’ Rights PAC, the group that submitted the just-failed initiative.

Written under the supervision of an attorney and with input from several Long Beach medical marijuana patients, collectives and advocates, the Collective Rights Act is modeled directly after a similar ordinance that those involved say has been used in Berkeley for two years without incident.

“This is a civil rights issue as far as I’m concerned and we’re here to keep the city in check,” said Jason Aula, a 1st District City Council candidate and proponent of the new measure. “We are doing this to prevent further abuse by the Police and Fire Departments.”

With the paperwork approved on Monday, the initiative now moves into the signature-gathering phase, which Aula says could cost about $50,000. He expects the money will easily come through a combination of private donors and small donations from others.

Others involved say it may not even cost that much because people will sign for the initiative without the use off paid signature gatherers, which is where most of the money is used to get measures such as this on a ballot.

“If this was in Irvine or Costa Mesa—where the majority of the people don’t want medical marijuana in their city—it would be a different story.” said a volunteer at an involved collective who wished to remain anonymous due to what they say is constant harassment from the Long Beach Police Department. “But this is Long Beach where the citizens overwhelmingly approve of making medical marijuana available to qualified patients. People will sign this because it is needed and wanted.”

Details of the Collective Rights Act include a series of amendments to both LBMC 5.89 and Title 21 that repeal the ban on dispensaries and collectives and in its place create conditional-use regulations on storefronts, supply quantities, compliance policies and zoning regulations. It also calls for a Medical Cannabis Commission—consisting of nine members from both the medical marijuana field and the City—that will monitor and correct violations to these new regulations.

The Collective Rights Act would need 33,000 signatures in order to force a special election. After it is turned in, the City Clerk’s office has 30 days to verify the signatures and once the signatures are verified, the special election must be held between 88 and 103 days later.

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Long Beach Collective Rights Act of 2013