LONG BEACH — Told by the Court of Appeal that it can't regulate marijuana collectives considered illegal under federal law, Long Beach intends to obey - and act to ban dispensaries within city limits.
According to City Attorney Robert Shannon, the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday requested in closed session that he draft two ordinances: one repealing the 1-year-old medical marijuana permit law and refunding about $700,000 in fees collected, and another that bars storefront dispensaries.
The council also announced it would appeal the court's decision to the California Supreme Court to seek clarification on the city's powers to control the selling of medical marijuana.
The 2 nd District Court of Appeal ruled last week that Long Beach's medical marijuana regulations violate U.S. laws forbidding distribution and sale of the drug. Marijuana is legal for medical use in California.
The case, Pack v. Long Beach, cast in sharp relief the contradictions between federal and state laws concerning marijuana use for medicine, with some legal observers predicting clashes in higher courts that would force judges to confront the issue.
The plaintiffs' attorney Matt Pappas couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
On the heels of the Pack decision, federal prosecutors announced Friday that they would conduct an aggressive crackdown on dispensaries in the state, saying some are using California's 15-year-old medicinal marijuana law as cover for dealing drugs.
Shannon said he expects to finish the legislation requested by the council in three to five weeks.
When Long Beach created its permit process authorizing operation of marijuana collectives, then-City Prosecutor Thomas Reeves told the council he wouldn't enforce the rules because he believed they were at odds with federal law.
Under the ordinance, qualified collectives were required to participate in a lottery for a limited number of permits and pay a nonrefundable application fee of $14,742.
The city also imposed an annual permit fee starting at $10,000.
The fee increased, depending on the size of the medical marijuana-growing collective.
If Long Beach does refund the fees, it is expected to have no impact on the city's budget since the money was set aside in case the law was reversed, an official said.
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