Banning marijuana businesses in Compton, imperative
Impossible to walk a straight line on marijuana in Compton if the line is crooked By CYNTHIA MACON and SUSAN ADAMS “Shout out” to Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and her Public Integrity Unit. Perhaps
Impossible to walk a straight line on marijuana in Compton if the line is crooked
By CYNTHIA MACON and SUSAN ADAMS
“Shout out” to Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and her Public Integrity Unit. Perhaps these are only figments of the citizens’ imagination. But, herewith, we respectfully bring it to your attention the prevalence of a pungent ephemeral essence created by the burning of marijuana, spiraling into the shallow skies of Compton.
You might have noticed the controversy raging in Compton over whether the City should or should not allow marijuana businesses. Yet, there has been hardly a mumbling word from the city council or city attorney. Residents have received no calendar listing on the city website, mailers, community forums, or town hall meetings, beyond a casual mention of the upcoming Marijuana Initiative Workshop to be held later today at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
There seems to be a strange disconnect between Compton’s city council and those of surrounding cities with not one single council person, publicly and vehemently, voicing opposition as did Cerritos, which voted 5-0 to ban, and Torrance, opposing 7-0. Considering the vote of these cities, why is Compton silent concerning marijuana when the debate here is controversial and explosive?
That’s easy, some say. The public has had to literally push the door open and invite itself into the conversation because the “fix” is in and the council — many assert — has every intention of voting “yes” to permit marijuana dispensaries to open legally in the city. Mayor Aja Brown reportedly has held secret meetings with the Chamber of Commerce, Compton’s Finest, businesses and non-profits, and select citizens over the last few months. The aim has been to champion the expansion of the marijuana industry in Compton.
The mayor allegedly is touting increased revenue, taxes, community benefits, and embracing the industry as a cornerstone of progress and change — a new take on tomorrow that looks strangely similar to Compton’s regrettable past. This is not a teachable moment.
You might remember Mayor Brown discussing the issue of marijuana in a 2013 edition of the Huffington-Post stating: “I believe the people of Compton are ready for change; they’ve spoken, their voice has clearly been heard that they don’t want to go backward.” Then adding she believed marijuana legalization, on any level, was bad for society; that she was essentially elected on the back of the city attorney’s promises to shutter any and all storefront medical marijuana dispensaries within Compton city limits.
The mayor went on to say she had high hopes for Compton’s resurgence, but acknowledged the city’s rocky history and said because of past drug wars, marijuana legalization is not in the best interest of Compton’s youth.
Huh? So shouldn’t Mayor Aja Brown, instead be fulfilling her campaign promise by calling for a complete ban on marijuana dispensaries within Compton and not flip-flopping on the public? But one never knows which “Mayor Aja Brown” we will get — the myth or the reality.
And City Atty. Cornwell, according to public record, was requested in January 2016 to update and bring a resolution for a full ban of marijuana businesses before the city council for a vote. The clock is ticking down to November and Cornwell still, has not produced a new resolution.
The League of California Cities has recommended a complete ban. Why? There are dozens of sub-categories to the marijuana industry but a person needs both a local and state license to operate. If a local ordinance is in place, the local city will control the future of marijuana businesses but only in that specific area. If no local ordinance is in place, the state of California and not the local city will control the unaddressed categories of the business in a specific city. Therefore, it is best, and prudent to begin by banning every aspect prior to November, to be certain, so every aspect of the marijuana business within Compton city limits will be “forever” subject to the local council and the wishes of the people.
We are therefore addressing the following to the attention of the City Atty. Cornwell: two samples of complete bans from the League of California Cities and the City of Cerritos, Calif., which should be easily adaptable for the City of Compton, dropping in the appropriate city and land ordinances to have a full ban ready in one week for a vote. This ban will prohibit retail stores, medical dispensaries, commercial and private cultivation, co-ops, clubs, testing, manufacturing, processing, distribution, and mobile delivery services from within Compton, in addition to the myriad categories and sub-categories outlined by the state.
The community is not interested in a rumored partial ban, leaving the window wide open. After all, the mayor and city attorney need to work together to fulfill her campaign promise from 2013, instead of careening off in a direction the public did not expect, desire, or request.
Now let’s talk corruption. Who will receive a license and who will not, cherry-picking what and who to enforce and not enforce, plus the constant pressure to city employees, commissions, and councils to sell out the city for drug money. The local county sheriff is already strapped with unsolved crimes, an upsurge in violence and deaths, and the opening of new, illegal dispensaries they are unable to keep pace with.
Violence and gang activity is continuing unabated, and our past reputation as a “Drug Hub” appears more “current” than not. It is quite apparent the city does not have the regulatory capacity to inspect and police such a volatile industry. The City of Long Beach already proved the cost to regulate the marijuana business, there will be higher than the expected revenue.
Businesspeople will make their money then return home to their safe neighborhoods where marijuana sales are banned. Non-profits will be subject to the corrupting influence of drug money while trying to provide a public service to a community they would now be technically leeching upon and setting up for failure. Commercial cultivation of Compton lands — the most ominous transgression and harbinger of the future, could lead unexpectedly to land speculation that displaces our residents and characterizes and negatively redefines our neighborhoods.
In short, marijuana is not what citizens envisioned when Mayor Aja Brown indicated she would bring “industry” to Compton. Liquor stores, marijuana, a proliferation of 7-Eleven stores, and lumbering 18-wheeler trucks do not equate to her promises of progress.
And to those that hide behind the terminally ill and medically needy to obfuscate obviously greedy intentions, how dishonorable the approach and offense. More than 200-plus cities in California, notably the cities adjacent to and in close proximity with Compton have banned marijuana businesses including dispensaries. These cities are not void of compassion and understanding; they simply know medical marijuana has been readily available to patients since California’s legalization years ago. Patients need only to visit a city where it is approved, less dangerous to access, and better regulated.
And for those who try to obscure and switch the controversy into an assault on marijuana users, exponents are not attacking marijuana consumption. Whether marijuana will be made legal is subject to the statewide ballot measure Proposition 64 in November. The petition to the Compton council is only about instituting a complete ban on marijuana businesses within the city as those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
Let’s talk rumors and street talk. Allegedly, some on the dais need to recuse themselves from a vote given their involvement in marijuana, jumping up and running out of the chamber at the mention of marijuana. It’s called plausible deniability. Coordination and plans to bring the marijuana industry into Compton are proceeding on a grand scale, they declare, even people purchasing land and warehouses.
Rumors are swirling that Lynwood will be responsible for cultivation, and Compton for selling. If true, it sounds like a movie where the crime syndicate sits at the table and carves up the territory. And whoever may be complicit on the city council is anyone’s guess. Rumor says one, two, maybe three.
Now, who is going to respect governance in Compton if any of this is true? And to be clear, we’d stake our money on the “streets” who always know the real “get down” versus phony public pronouncements from the dais any day.
The Committee to Ban Marijuana Businesses in Compton.