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    Councilmembers Baker & Lerch Ask City Mgr. To Address Issues Surrounding How LBPD Handles Use of Medical Marijuana

    (June 12, 2004) -- Councilmembers Dan Baker and Val Lerch have jointly agendized a request that the City Manager address LB City Hall's policies on medical marijuana...a subject that escalated to Council level after the City Attorney's office indicated that the Council-appointed Public Safety Advisory Commission (PSAC) lacked authority to address the issue.

    In a March 23, 2004 memo to the Mayor and Councilmembers, PSAC said that at its November 2003 meeting "members of the public brought forward questions and concerns regarding the Long Beach Police Department's policies regarding medical marijuana"...after which the City Attorney's office indicated the issue was not within PSAC's scope and authority.

    PSAC's memo said that in January 2004 the public again raised the issue of LBPD's policies on medical marijuana...and at the February 2004 PSAC meeting, Deputy City Attorney J. Charles Parkin said PSAC's role was strictly advisory and the Council had control of police services.

    PSAC's memo says Mr. Parkin explained that City Hall policy on arrests under medical marijuana situations was determined by LBPD...and was not under control of the City Council.

    PSAC again took public input on the issue...and "[s]everal members of the community once again presented information and testimony as to their experiences and expectations under the State's Medical Marijuana Law." PSAC's memo to Councilmembers concluded:

    [I]t became evident to the Commission that there is [sic] indeed a number of issues that need to be clarified and refined in regards to the City's policies on medical marijuana.

    The current policy of arresting or citing all in possession of marijuana creates and [sic] atmosphere of distrust and anger from those who feel they are following the State law as written. Public safety officials, on the other hand, feel they have no equitable and legal means to determine when not to cite or arrest at their level.

    Without making nay judgment on the current policies of the Long Beach Police Department, the Commission finds the situation in general has created a great deal of anxiety for those involved in the use of medical marijuana. Without debating the efficacy of their medical marijuana treatment, nor [sic] suggesting the actions of the public safety officers involved are deficient, something should be done to clarify the issues for all concerned.

    Citations and arrests are troubling, costly events for all concerned. They place citizens in jeopardy of temporarily losing their freedoms and place a further burden on an already over worked police force and judicial system. If a clarification and refinement of policies and procedures can result in reducing or eliminating arrests of people legally using, possessing or cultivating marijuana, everyone will benefit...


    Create a task force to study how the Long Beach Police Department can develop a policy that conforms to the State guidelines on the use of medical marijuana.

    Councilmembers Baker and Lerch's agendizing memo proposes that the Council request the City Manager to address issues raised by the Public Safety Advisory Commission regarding the City's policy on medical marijuana.

    The issue of how LBPD handles use of medical marijuana has been relentlessly pursued for months by Diana Lejins, a LB photo journalist. In fliers and emails notifying people of the June 15 Council item, Ms. Lejins has said:

    ...We and our loved ones are all on the path to death, and we won't know until the time comes if this medicine will fit our needs--the time to make sure you will have a choice is NOW!

    The Long Beach Police Department currently imposes cruel and inhumane zero-tolerance towards legitimate medicinal marijuana patients. Their outdated and Draconian policy demands that officers cite and/or arrest the sick and dying regardless of legislation and judicial precedents to the contrary.

    On Tue Jun 15, at the LB City Council meeting, you can voice your opposition to this heartless practice. No speech is necessary -- just your presence in conservative attire can make a huge difference (a green shirt or blouse is a plus). Lobby your Council Members before the meeting--letters are great!

    The life you save or the suffering you allay may be your own or that of your loved ones.

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