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Equity Dispensary Ordinance

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On October 12, 2021, the Office of Cannabis Oversight presented the feasibility analysis on allowing up to an additional eight (8) retail licenses made exclusive to equity applicants in the city. The presentation also included a report on the feasibility analysis to allow delivery businesses in the city. The City Council directed staff to develop an ordinance, which is currently being drafted and will likely be presented to the City Council in March 2022.  

Proposed Equity Dispensary Cannabis Map

The Proposed Equity Dispensary Cannabis Map was developed to allow the public to view the proposed buffer changes for equity dispensaries in an interactive format. This map has not been approved yet by the City Council and is subject to change at any time. To see where a cannabis business can currently locate in the City, view our current cannabis map. 

Staff Recommendations & Presentation

As part of staff's presentation to the City Council, staff provided the following recommendations related to the feasibility of allowing delivery and equity dispensary facilities in Long Beach: 

  • Expand the Green Zone for dispensaries in Long Beach.
  • Allocate eight new adult-use dispensary licenses to verified equity applicants.
  • Use a hybrid application process, including a merit-based review and lottery, to select which equity applicants can move forward in the dispensary licensing process.
  • Strengthen the LBMC and provide additional education, training, and direct technical assistance to equity applicants.
  • Add 2.0 FTEs at an annual estimated cost of $230,000 and one-time funds of $325,000.
  • Increase the cannabis business license tax by .25% for all cannabis businesses charged a percentage of gross receipts.

View a copy of staff's presentation or watch the video of the meeting. 

City Council Decision 

After discussing staff's recommendations, the City Council voted to:

  • Direct staff to prepare an ordinance to allow cannabis delivery and equity dispensary facilities in Long Beach; 
  • Have staff conduct an analysis of a 1,500 ft. buffer for dispensaries, in addition to the buffer recommendations;
  • Eliminate the proposed tax increase and look for grants as a first option for funding; 
  • Authorize $50,000 for a consultant to assist in engaging the community on the design of the equity dispensary licensing process; and, 
  • Eliminate the lottery from the dispensary application process and instead focus on a full merit-based process. 

View the minutes from the meeting. 

Next Steps

Staff is currently working on drafting the ordinance to allow for delivery and equity dispensary businesses in Long Beach. It is anticipated that the ordinance will be presented to the City Council in March 2022. 

Related Documents  

Delivery Feasibility Analysis

Equity Dispensary Feasibility Analysis

LBMC 5.90 (Medical Cannabis Ordinance) 

LBMC 5.92 (Adult-Use Cannabis Ordinance) 

State Regulations

More Information

  • What are dispensaries?

    Dispensaries are traditional retail storefronts that sell cannabis to customers. Dispensaries in Long Beach also have the option to perform delivery to customers.

    See LBMC Chapter 5.92 for more information and requirements on dispensaries in Long Beach.

  • How does adding dispensaries impact equity?

    Dispensaries in Long Beach are the most profitable business type, with lower barriers to entry than other cannabis businesses, such as cultivation and manufacturing. 

    At the time the adult-use cannabis ordinance was passed, the maximum number of dispensaries in the City was capped at 32, with no possible path to licensure for equity applicants. All dispensaries operating in the City today are non-equity applicants. 

    By allowing equity applicants to obtain dispensary licenses, it affords them the same opportuity that non-equity applicants were given, and helps to level the playing field in the cannabis industry in Long Beach. 

  • What has happened to-date with dispensaries?

    To date, the City has taken the following actions regarding dispensaries:

    • November 2016 - Long Beach voters place Measure MM on the ballot, which allowed for medical cannabis businesses to operate in Long Beach.
    • November 8, 2016 - Measure MM passed by the Long Beach voters, creating Long Beach Municipal Code Chapter 5.90.
    • September 28, 2017 - The City held a public lottery to determine which dispensary applications were eligible to proceed through the City's licensing process. 
    • August 13, 2018 - Long Beach Municipal Code Chapter 5.92 goes into effect, allowing for the licensing and regulation of adult-use cannabis businesses.
    • August 5, 2020 - Staff released a memo to the City Council on equity business ownership opportunities, which included adding additional dispensary licenses. 
    • March 16, 2021 - The City Council directed staff to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of allowing up to 8 additional dispensay licenses exclusive to equity applicants.
    • July 16, 2021 - The survey was open to public comment by the Long Beach community to provide feedback on dispensary policy issues for consideration by the City Council.
    • July 28, 2021 - The Office of Cannabis Oversight hosted a community meeting to collect feedback on dispensary policy issues under consideration by the City Council. 
    • July 30, 2021 - The dispensary policy survey closed with 135 responses.
    • September 2021 - Staff drafted the Cannabis Equity Retail Storefront (Dispensary) Feasibility Analysis
    • October 1, 2021 - The complete report was published to the Memos to the Mayor and City Council web page.
    • October 12, 2021 - Delivery and Equity Dispensary Feasibility Analyses presented to the City Council.