In February, council members voted to ban medical cannabis collectives following an appeals court ruling that struck down Long Beach's 2010 law that set up a permit process for dispensaries.
At the same time, the council granted a six-month reprieve to dispensaries that complied with the law. The exemption would expire Aug. 12 unless the council extends it.
In a report updating the council on marijuana-related enforcement activities, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said officers have responded to about 1,200 incidents at dispensaries, with calls including murder and theft.
The exemption that exists for certain collectives — but not others who operate outside of the repealed law — creates a disparity that puts law enforcement on uncertain legal footing when attempting to prosecute criminal activity, according to officials..
"It's imperative that law enforcement treat all people equally," said McDonnell.
McDonnell also clarified an earlier claim in a city staff report that said the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office wouldn't file felony drug charges against operators while a partial exemption to the ban exists.
Richard Doyle, a lawyer with the District Attorney's Office, was present and said the
"It's a difficult road for us to do one way or another, but it makes it easier if there is a ban," said Doyle.
Enforcing a full ban would allow Long Beach police to work with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration to seize assets to shut down collectives, according to McDonnell.
Councilwoman Rae Gabelich was a lone voice Tuesday for consideration of an exemption extension.
"I don't think that throwing the baby out with the bathwater at this point is what we're looking to do," Gabelich said.
Councilmen Robert Garcia and Dee Andrews were absent.
Medical marijuana proponents passionately argued their side during an occasionally-contentious public comment period that was tightly moderated by Mayor Bob Foster.
Carl Kemp, spokesman for the Long Beach Collectives Association, said the 10-collective alliance is following the spirit of the defunct permit law and shouldn't be punished for the actions at other facilities.
Kemp's comments prompted Foster to ask if LBCA members are recording profits.
"If you have a claim, you must have the proof," answered Kemp.
Foster posed the question again.
"I'm answering your question," Kemp said.
"No, you're obscuring it," Foster shot back.