Six Long Beach marijuana dispensaries are legally selling recreational marijuana after acquiring adult-use cannabis business licenses from the city.
“It has been extremely busy in the shop, and we are definitely seeing a lot more customers. We’re looking to see how this week and next week go to see what the average daily [customer] base is going to be going forward,” Matthew Abrams, co-owner of One Love Beach Club, said. “The first weekend was probably an anomaly because people were excited [and have] been waiting quite a while.”
Jeremy Abrams and his family began selling recreational marijuana at One Love Beach Club, located at 2767 E. Broadway, on August 31. The shop was one of the first dispensaries to receive its adult-use cannabis business license from the city. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Brandon Richardson)
The first four recreational business licenses were issued on August 31 to One Love, located at 2767 E. Broadway; Long Beach Green Room, at 1735 E. 7th St.; The Station, at 1957 Pacific Ave.; and Connected Cannabis Co., at 5227 E. 2nd St. On September 5, Stone Age Farmacy, located at 3428 Long Beach Blvd., and LB Collective Inc., at 1731 E. Artesia Blvd. were issued licenses and began the sale of recreational marijuana, according to Ajay Kolluri, the city’s cannabis program manager and assistant to the city manager.
Tax revenue generated from the sale of recreational marijuana is estimated to be $750,000 for Fiscal Year 2019, Kolluri stated in an e-mail to the Business Journal. The tax dollars go directly into the General Fund, as outlined in the 2017 voter-approved Measure MA, and support the cannabis regulatory program for enforcement and public education, he explained.
The city tax on medical marijuana is 6%. The city’s 10.25% sales tax is waived for patients purchasing marijuana with a county health card. The city tax on recreational sales is 8% on top of the 10.25% sales tax.
Abrams said, conservatively, recreational sales will increase business 50%. However, he added that he hoped adult-use sales would ultimately double overall transactions. Additional revenue is assisting in the expansion of One Love into the neighboring storefront, Abrams said. Previously occupied by Match Free Electronic Vaporizers, which relocated to 7th Street, the space will approximately double the size of One Love to more than 1,700 square feet. Plans for the expansion have already been submitted to the city, and the buildout will begin as soon as they are approved, Abrams said. The larger dispensary should allow the shop to service more customers, which would likely require increasing staff, he added.
“The city was very fast in getting all the applications approved and getting people open for recreational sales,” Abrams said. “I was very happy with the way they handled it once the applications came out.”
The legal use of marijuana for all persons over the age of 21 poses new challenges for the Long Beach Police Department, according to Commander Paul LeBaron. The police department is working in tandem with other city departments on how best to regulate the distribution, sale and consumption of marijuana products, he explained. Much of the enforcement occurs between the businesses and the city’s business license division, health department and code enforcement, LeBaron added.
“The police department would get involved if there were any felony-level crimes or misdemeanor-level crimes that we could take enforcement action on,” LeBaron said. “That would be on a case-by-case basis.”
A key concern of those opposed to legal recreational marijuana is the threat of an increased number of people driving under the influence (DUI). LeBaron said there are three classifications of DUI in the vehicle code: one specific to alcohol, another specific to drugs and the last for a combination of drugs and alcohol. There is no marijuana-specific classification for DUI.
Currently, in order to compile statistics related to whether or not marijuana-related DUI arrests or accidents are increasing due to legalization, the department would have to manually search all drug-related DUI arrests and accidents. Internally, LeBaron said the department is working on a system to track marijuana criminal activity specifically.
One challenge for officers enforcing marijuana violations is that accurate detection tests are time consuming, requiring lab analysis such as urine tests, LeBaron explained. Testing for alcohol can be done on the roadside in seconds with a breathalyzer, but no such technology exists for marijuana. Additionally, marijuana can be detected in a person’s system up to 30 days after their last use, depending on how much a person consumes, frequency of consumption, metabolic rate and other factors. Because of this, a urine test would have to be substantiated with objective symptoms at the time of arrest, determined through a field sobriety test.
“It’s important that people pay attention to what the regulations are because, like alcohol, there are prohibitions on certain areas that you need to be in or can’t be in, and how you need to possess it and all of those things,” LeBaron said. “One of the challenges we see is when people live close together. . . . Secondhand smoke will oftentimes drift in other peoples’ residences. We want to respect the rights of people to legally consume what they choose to. But we’re also dealing with people who feel that their peace is being disturbed. We just ask that people have common courtesy for others as they’re engaging in what is technically a legal activity now.”