During its January 9 meeting, the Long Beach City Council voted unanimously, with no discussion, to approve an emergency 180-day ban on recreational marijuana sales in the city.


In December, the council requested the city attorney to draft the emergency ordinance to protect the city from legal action while staff drafts an ordinance to regulate recreational marijuana business licenses and product sales. Statewide voter-approved Proposition 64 legalized recreational marijuana as of January 1 of this year; however, it allowed for local governments to draft their own ordinances either banning or allowing adult-use sales.


One public commenter said he is not necessarily opposed to the temporary ban but noted that 13 shops in Santa Ana began recreational sales on January 1. Additionally, the cities of Bellflower, Lynwood and Maywood are slated to begin sales during the first quarter of the year. Another public commenter, who identified himself as a future dispensary owner, said that medical dispensary owners are turning away as many as 100 customers per day who are seeking recreational marijuana. As a result, the city is losing out on sales tax dollars to other cities, the commenters argued.


At the federal level, marijuana is classified as a Schedule One drug, along with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl. Despite this classification, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C., while recreational sales and use are legal in eight states and Washington, D.C.


On January 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the removal of an Obama-era policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws by the federal government. Numerous politicians at the national, state and local levels have spoken out against the decision, saying they will fight to uphold voter-approved medical and recreational sales and use.

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