Long Beach has begun taking applications to operate medical marijuana dispensaries under the ordinance approved by voters last November.
But don’t expect any business licenses to be issued any time soon. Paperwork, site preparation and necessary inspections likely mean it will be summer before marijuana is legally sold in the city, officials said.
“Feb. 22 is the deadline for those applicants with no priority,” said Monica Kilaita, the deputy city attorney overseeing the process. “But those with priority have until July — the ballot issue gave them six months.”
There are three priority levels for dispensary operators. First priority are those who were operating under the 2010 ordinance that eventually was ruled unconstitutional because of its use of a lottery, and who still have the same location. Priority two are those who were operating in 2010, but have a new location. Non-priority are those who have not had a license in Long Beach.
At the end of last week, there were 10 completed applications filed with the Business License Division of the Finance Department. Two are listed as priority one, four are priority 2 and the other four are non-priority.
The ordinance passed in November allows up to 32 dispensaries in Long Beach, based on the city’s population. There also are a laundry list of requirements dispensaries must meet, in addition to building codes and safety standards.
“Right now, they’re making sure the applications are complete,” Kilaita said. “Then the have to meet all the zoning and building codes. When they get open really depends on how they cooperate with the city to get inspections done and the like.”
While the ordinance does require dispensaries to locate a certain distance away from schools, parks and each other, they are allowed in retail areas. According to the list of applicants so