The Signal Hill Patients Access political action committee (PAC) submitted two initiative petitions to the Signal Hill city clerk after procuring signatures of the required 10% of registered Signal Hill voters.


At 4:20 p.m. on Monday, August 8 – the final day to submit its petitions – the PAC submitted 800 signatures for a medical cannabis facility transaction fee and more than 650 signatures for the medical cannabis facilities act.


“These initiatives were drafted to ensure Signal Hill residents have safe and legal access to medical cannabis if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering,” Signal Hill medical cannabis proponent and co-founder of the PAC, Jeff Benson, said in a press release. “The one benefit of not already having medical marijuana facilities and transaction fees on those facilities is that we were able to incorporate the best practices and lessons learned from the numerous California cities that already do have them.”


The act calls for up to nine permitted cannabis facilities to be allowed in the city. Cannabis facilities can be dispensary stores, factories for edibles, cultivation sites, testing facilities or delivery-only providers.


Also proposed is a 10% transaction fee on every dollar of cannabis products sold within the City of Signal Hill. Of the fee, 50% would go directly into the city’s general fund, 25% would go to the school district, and 25% to the police department.


The petitions also would establish a Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee all facilities to ensure they follow strict standards, such as providing 1% of their annual product to very low-income residents and testing and labeling all products before they reach the consumer, similar to the testing and nutrition facts labeling of food products.


“People don’t really want to eat food without nutritional facts. So why would anyone want to have medicinal cannabis products without comparable facts?” Jason Aula, chief strategist and author of both petitions, told the Business Journal.


Aside from bringing medical marijuana to residents and generating tax revenue for the city, Aula said cannabis facilities would create hundreds of jobs, which will have the option to unionize through a labor peace agreement as a condition of the proposed measure.


“There’s been one inquiry from an edibles factory that could create hundreds of jobs because the facility could be up to 30,000 square feet based on the way the law is written,” Aula said. “That could accommodate a retail brick-and-mortar place, a large cultivation facility and an edibles factory.”


Additionally, facilities would be required to be environmentally friendly in regards to water and energy use and be progressive with provisions such as onsite consumption – meaning customers could sample edibles and various strains of cannabis at the dispensaries.


When discussing the risk factors of onsite consumption, including a person driving shortly after smoking or ingesting cannabis products, Aula said, “There would be limitations to consumption, but at the end of the day, it’s the individual’s personal responsibility. As we see it, legally there is no way to measure cannabis in your system, and we don’t feel that the medical cannabis facility should be responsible legally.”


Included in the initiatives is a section that allows voters to amend portions of the law and bars the city council from passing amendments without voter approval.


According to the PAC’s legal counsel, Matthew Pappas, the city clerk’s office has 30 business days to examine the petitions and confirm they contain the required 629 signatures of registered voters. After this confirmation, the petitions will be sent to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, which will have another 30 business days to review the measure to ensure it complies with California initiative laws and elections codes.


The petitions did not garner 15% of registered voter signatures to warrant a special election. So assuming the Signal Hill city clerk confirms all signatures and the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office finds the measures comply with the proper laws and codes, residents will vote on the initiatives during the next general municipal election on March 7, 2017.


“It’s time to make Signal Hill great again with the medical cannabis facilities act of 2016,” Aula said in a press release. “We’re confident most voters will agree come the time to vote, and if they do not agree the committee will do the best it can to convert the naysayers.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.