My break into Long Beach journalism came in 2008 when an East Village Arts District medpot dispensary I was talking to about neighborhood resistance they were encountering got raided by the DEA. I was the only one who had looked into the original story, which had just become an order of magnitude bigger. It got bigger still when the dispensary managed to retain video of the entire DEA raid, including agents smashing cameras.

That article, which ended up as a cover story for The District Weekly, was the beginning of several years of covering medpot in Long Beach, sitting through marathon city council meetings, poring over proposed ordinances, filing Public Records Act Requests, and even getting threatened by the city attorney.

Although marijuana decriminalization had always been one of my pet political issues, writing about such stuff was never my dream. I did it for so long because I’d stumbled into it, and it seemed that my “willing + able” quotient was higher than anyone else’s.

But finally I just got tired. Even during the relatively short period when Long Beach allowed dispensaries to operate, part of the story was always the same: the Long Beach Police Department had a hard-on to stop medpot, even at the expense of diverting resources away from violent crimes; and the city council was disingenuous, saying they had compassion for patients but doing everything they could to make it so only those most medicinally in need were truly inconvenienced by draconian restrictions and eventually a complete ban.

The last medpot article I wrote was in May 2015 after I attended a couple of meetings of the Medical Cannabis Task Force, which the city council set up in a transparent charade to appear to be moving forward on once again allowing dispensaries—something heavily favored by Long Beach residents, who in 2012 voted in favor of legalizing marijuana for even recreational use (something even L.A. residents didn’t do)—while merely dragging the City’s feet on the issue. As I wrote at the time, “[I]t is looking like marijuana could be legal for recreational use statewide before Long Beach is again home to a single medicinal dispensary.”

I hate to say I told you so, so I’ll just say that it’s worse. Not only does the ban remain in place, but the LBPD continues to expend its resources to save you from the marijuana menace. A recent chapter in that sad story is documented in the OC Weekly by Nick Schou, who reports on recent sting operation against a longtime medpot collective that involved faking a doctor’s recommendation. (This is a legit collective, the kind that not only requires a recommendation but actually has people on staff who can help fulfill your medical needs.)

And then just this week the LBPD patted itself on the back by handing out a Unit Citation to its Drug Investigations Section Field Team for the 400 arrests and 150 search warrants served on dispensaries in 2014–’15. In the awards ceremony program they call it “[t]heir relentless pursuit of narcotics violators,” as if they’re not talking about state-sanctioned medicine being distributed openly.

Reminder: medical marijuana has been legal in California for 20 years. “The medical-marijuana movement is here, and it’s something we have to deal with and accept,” said then-Councilmember Robert Garcia in 2009. Now mayor, in February 2015 Garcia said, “We do owe the public a resolution on this issue, with a responsible timeline.”

So how are we doing in Long Beach with dealing and accepting medpot? Do we have a legitimate resolution on the subject? Is there anything responsible about how the City is handling medpot?

Because the city council that you elected is choosing to stand against the wishes of their constituency on this issue, medpot proponents have gathered signatures to place a medpot initiative on the ballot, the passage of which would mean that dispensaries can come back to Long Beach, despite the obstructionism of city officials.

The price tag to the city for going this route? According to city clerk, every ballot initiative costs the City of Long Beach $433,000.

Full disclosure: I use cannabis, so perhaps one might argue that my ire at our councilmembers has to do with my own interests or convenience. But on a scale from 1 to 100, want to guess how difficult it is for me to acquire cannabis outside of dispensaries? If you guessed 2, you’re 1 over. The California poppy may be our state flower, but on the city level it’s cannabis. It would be everywhere even if you didn’t have numerous delivery services—unregulated, thanks to the city council’s inflexibility—to bring it to your doorstep. The only thing the City’s cannabis ban achieves is fueling the black market.

At any time the city council could have at least signaled to our police that expending their limited resources on cannabis “crimes” is wasteful. Santa Monica has done it. So has Oakland, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. All of these California cities—and many more across the country—have official positions making marijuana matters law enforcement’s lowest priority. But not Long Beach.

A message to Long Beach police officers: take this matter into your own hands. Or rather, hands off. Turn a blind eye to all things cannabis. By enforcing anti-cannabis laws, you are today’s equivalent of the boys in blue who once upon a time arrested Black people for using Whites-only facilities. You’re on the wrong side of history, and (as your brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition will tell you) you’re tarnishing and corrupting your profession. Many of you have kids. You think 20 years from now you’ll be able to tell them with pride how you protected and served by spending hundreds of hours of your career on pot busts? That list of 14 Drug Investigations officers in the award program is a roll call of shame.

A message to Long Beach city councilmembers: your compassion rhetoric is empty. As an increasing number of city councils in Southern California—now including cities in notoriously conservative Orange County—have progressed, your have gullibly and/or disingenuously confined Long Beach to the unpragmatic past. Now you are months away from costing city residents nearly half a million dollars for your unwillingness to let one of the world’s only non-toxic medicines be dispensed in a city that overwhelmingly favors it. Even though your actions have demonstrated that you don’t actually care about medpot patients, perhaps you care enough about city coffers to finally read the writing on the wall and repeal the ban before voters do it for you?

Sometimes our leaders fail us. In Long Beach, when it comes to cannabis, our city council and the command staff of our police force have failed us repeatedly, miserably, and inexcusably. It’s high time we all owned that fact as publicly and vociferously as possible.

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