It's hard to find a better example of how not to legalize marijuana than what has unfolded in Long Beach in the past few years. First the city invited cannabis collectives to apply for costly application rights to grow and distribute marijuana, then held a botched lottery to select winners, then failed to provide a single permit to any storefront. Finally, the city banned marijuana dispensaries, and now, having gone full circle, is contemplating legalizing them again.
What better timing then, for the candidacy of Matthew Pappas. And just who is Matt Pappas, you ask?
Good question! Why Pappas just happens to be the medical marijuana attorney who helped fight the city's aforementioned, corrupted pot lottery process, successfully arguing that Long Beach's convoluted medical marijuana ordinance was unconstitutional under state law. He also represented Tony Jalali and other Southern California landlords who the feds had threatened with asset forfeiture until the Obama Administration finally backed off earlier this month, a major victory in California's epic quest to legalize pot.
One thing is for sure: he's probably the person city hall would want you to vote for.
In an email to the Weekly, Pappas stated that he's running for office to send a message to City Hall that the status quo can no longer hold.
"I'm not interested in politics, but I've seen so many bad things happen to so many good people because of the arrogant and self-focused folks in city government that I just can't sit and watch it continue," Pappas explained. "The same people just seem to shift to other elected positions or run again. Even worse, the City Attorney gets paid a huge sum of money - $269,000.00 annually. While that is much lower than the $500,000.00 Santa Ana has agreed to pay its new city manager, it is way too much. It must go down to $150,000.00."
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Pappas also wants to make sure city cops wear cameras, perhaps thinking of the brutality captured when cops raided one of his clients a few years ago and didn't realize they were being filmed stepping on some unlucky guy's back after he followed an order to lie down on the floor.
"They need to be held accountable," Pappas elaborated. "All of them need to go through sensitivity training. A whole bunch of folks need to be terminated and those who are so very good but who are suppressed by the people at the top in the City Attorney's office need to have an opportunity to develop and innovate."
Pappas knows his run for office won't be easy but hopes to send a message no matter the outcome of the race. "Whether I win or not, hopefully bringing these issues up will put some pressure on these people to begin serving their constituents, not themselves."