By Greggory Moore
Fifth District Council member Gerrie Schipske set up a survey last week supposedly to gauge public support for implementing further restrictions the City’s medical marijuana ordinance as proposed by herself and Council members DeLong and O’Donnell.
Now she knows.
As of 6:00pm Monday, the roughly 1,000 residents who had taken the survey had definitively voiced their disapproval of the two proposed changes to the ordinance about which Schipske asked, as well as of the possibility of holding a referendum election to completely prohibit marijuana collectives within city limits. Specifically:
- To the question, “Should the existing ordinance allowing medical marijuana collectives be changed to prohibit these collectives from operating within 1,000 feet of parks, libraries and day care centers in addition to schools?” 41.8% of participants said Yes, while 53.9% said No.
- To the question, “Should the ordinance be changed to require that growing marijuana can only be done in industrial zones?” 31.5% said Yes, while 59.2% said No.
- To the question, “Would you support a ballot measure prohibiting ALL medical marijuana collectives in the City of Long Beach consistent with the cities of Lakewood and Signal Hill?” only 30.0% said Yes, with 64.8% saying No.
Considering that on her blog Schipske opines that Californians “overwhelmingly” rejected Proposition 191, which lost by 8 percentage points (viz., 46% to 54%), since each of her three questions lost by a greater margin, by Schipske’s own metric residents have overwhelmingly rejected her positions on these issues.
These results are somewhat surprising for several reasons. For starters, the councilmember conducted the survey on her personal blog, gerrieschipske.com. Presumably the majority of readers of her blog would be Schipske supporters, so one would expect most of those taking the survey would be sympathetic to her views.
Moreover, instead of attempting to frame the survey without bias, Schipske premised the survey by stating these are changes she has proposed, as well as posting statements like, “Long Beach does not need to allow these collectives anywhere let alone across from parks, day care centers, libraries and other places young children congregate,” and “We also don’t need to allow marijuana grown in retail centers”—statements clearly intended to influence public opinion.
Additionally, over three-fourths of the respondents reside in Council Districts 3, 4, and 5—the districts presided over by DeLong, O’Donnell, and Schipske2, respectively. Since, of course, these three were elected because the majority of residents in each district voted for them, we would expect the three to have been representing the interests of their constituency before they brought forward their proposed changes. And yet the results of the survey suggest otherwise.
During the process, Schipske may have attempted to further bias the results on the question of buffer zones by thrice posting on her blog that survey participants from the 5th District favor her proposal, although the survey results are not broken down by district for the participants, so there was no way to independently verify this as true. Whatever the case, Schipske’s proposed changes to the ordinance are not for the 5th District alone, but for the entire city—and Long Beach as a whole has rejected this change by 12 percentage points.
On Monday, Schipske praised her choice to create the survey by posting, “At least someone bothered to ask your opinion.” Curiously, Schipske chose not to seek public opinion about whether collectives should be limited to two per council district, which is also a change the three councilmembers are seeking.
Schipske does not say why she did not bother to seek public opinion prior to crafting her proposed changes and then trying to pass the matter a city council last Tuesday night.
But she has asked it now, and found that, overwhelmingly, residents do not support her proposed changes.
1Schipske’s exact claim was that Californians rejected the legalization of marijuana, though Prop. 19 concerned only the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. As Councilmember Schipske is of course aware, in 1996 Californians approved Proposition 215 more “overwhelmingly”—namely, by a margin of 11.2 percentage points (55.6% to 44.4%). In the 14 years since then, surveys have continually found that support for medical marijuana has grown steadily. (See, for example, this recent ABC News poll finding 81% of Americans favoring the legalization of marijuana for medical use.)
2Almost exactly half of the respondents were from Schipske’s 5th District.