Letters to Editor
From Issue: Volume XX - Number 26
As a resident of Long Beach and a retired deputy chief of police from the LAPD with some insight into governance, law enforcement and medical marijuana laws I would like to supplement your 12/28 article “Pot Shops Rebound after being raided.”
I do this for several reasons; 1) a concern that our elected officials have little regard for the rule of law and the will of the people; 2) that the enforcement actions taken by the LBPD at the direction of the City Attorney has been in many cases unlawful and 3) that Long Beach residents have been and continue to be exposed to the near certainty of having to pay out tens of millions of dollars as the result of dozens of law suits brought against the city for its "wild west" attitude of impunity.
57% of California voters authorized medical marijuana in the state of California 16 years ago. It matters not that our city officials disagree with the will of the people, nor does it matter that there exists some government studies that say it is harmful (while many independent studies dispute its so-called harm). It is the law.
The problem in Long Beach is that officialdom has elected to erect barricades to the implementation of that law rather than work toward a installing a reasonable system of regulation and control, like so many other cities across the state have been able to accomplish. Instead our city leadership has imposed an illegal ban on dispensaries, labeled the business people who run them as thugs and hoodlums and called upon their “federal partners” to step in and enforce their will in spite of the fact that each of our elected officials and police officers are sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws of the sovereign state of California.
Despite having knowledge that the state Supreme Court had granted review in multiple dispensary ban cases, on February 14, 2012 the City of Long Beach enacted their so-called ban. After the City failed to close dispensaries by circumventing state law though multiple extra-judicial “strong-arm” actions including threatening landlords, revoking landlord business licenses, and placing liens on the properties of landlords who refused to evict tenants with leases that satisfied California law, the City also began engaging in multiple police raids, many of which were accomplished without search warrants. Even after being told that warrantless raids were invalid by a Superior Court judge, the City continued its raids, attacks, destruction and illegal seizure of property, application of excessive force against volunteer clerk-patients and arrests of patients.
After many law suits were filed I can only assume that the City finally realized the warrantless raids were going to cost the treasury dearly, as they eventually began obtaining warrants. However, those warrants were incomplete and included improper affidavits so egregious that another costly lawsuit has been filed against the City charging Forth Amendment violations, improper seizures, reckless omission of facts, judicial deception and failures to inventory seized properties and file legally required returns with the courts.
The police affidavits referenced cocaine, methamphetamine, child pornography and sexual activities with minors in order to influence issuance by the courts for felony violations and after almost fifty (50) raids since February, 2011, not a single charge has been brought other than violation of the City’s defunct marijuana ordinance.
There has been no child pornography, no sex with minors, no cocaine and no meth. In raid after raid, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office refused to charge patients arrested by the City, yet the raids continue as does the impunity and judicial deception practiced by the City and its police department.
The City's strategy of has been successful -- almost all of the patient collectives are now closed. With nothing stopping it, thus far, the City has, over the last two year period, engaged in more and more illegal actions believing it is immune from any consequences stemming from its bad behavior. However, the consequences are on the horizon, and the City's attitude of impunity is going to cost all of us dearly. The rule of law will eventually prevail and it is the residents of Long Beach that will be the ones who pay the bill for the misconduct of City Hall.