Tuesday night, the City Council sent two appeals of denials for medical marijuana dispensaries licenses to a hearing officer, while 12 others are in plan check and inspections, the last step before getting a license.
No one in Long Beach has a license to legally dispense medical marijuana, nine months after voters approved an ordinance to allow that to happen.
Long Beach’s Finance Department is handling the application process, and had to create rules and regulations from the start, using the ordinance approved in the November election as a guide. Applications were accepted beginning a few months ago, but the sheer volume — 167 as of last week — has slowed the approval process.
The medical marijuana ordinance passed in November limited the number of dispensaries by population to 32-34 citywide. There also are buffer zones from parks and schools, and a zoning limitation making residential areas off-limits.
City officials denied one of the applicants filing appeals Tuesday saying the location was in a residential area. The other, proposed in Naples, violated the buffer zones by being too close to a park and a beach, according to city officials.
So far, 13 applications have been rejected for buffer violations. The rest of the applications are pending review.
In order to bring some order and fairness to the application process, the city has assigned priority to dispensary applicants who had businesses in the city before the state Supreme Court ruled the city’s ordinance unconstitutional. (The council then banned all dispensaries.) If an operator is trying to reopen the same location, that gets the top priority.
There currently are 16 Priority 1 or Priority 2 applicants. The 12 sites currently in the final review process include one at 5227 E. Second St. in Belmont Shore. There is at least one site in