With the approval of regulations for recreational marijuana, the L.A. City Council has paved the way for the city to become the biggest city in the U.S. to allow legal marijuana growth, sales and use.
The council’s decision followed many months of political wrangling and bitter disputes. But now, the city has clear rules that will kick off the beginning of commercial cannabis sales.
Although new cannabis businesses in Los Angeles could be open as early as January 1st, there is some skepticism about whether the floodgates will truly be open by then, given the fact that the new year is only a few weeks away and the holidays tend to be an extremely busy time, with lots of government office closures that could slow the process. There is plenty of motivation, however, given the fact that there are throngs of eager buyers in this city of 4 million people.
Marijuana has been legal in California for the last 20 years, but recreational marijuana was only approved by voters last year. While the state has its own regulations, individual cities are also scrambling to decide what additional rules and restrictions they want to impose, if any.
In Los Angeles, the new rules passed in a 12-0 vote. The regulations that were approved are complex and extensive and, governing where and how marijuana can be grown and sold. Among the new regulations:
- Retail marijuana businesses in L.A. will only be allowed to operating in specially-zoned industrial and commercial regions of the city.
- Cannabis companies won’t be allowed to operate within 750 feet of certain types of operations, such as schools, libraries and public parks.
- Farmers and manufacturers of marijuana products will also be required to maintain operations inside strictly-regulated industrial zones, and will have to maintain a radius of at least 600 feet from schools and other sites where children and families gather.
- The number of shops, growers and manufacturers allowed to be licensed and operational in the city will be capped.
- All stores will be required to adopt and enforce strict security measures (as these are cash-only businesses, prone to robbery and theft), which include video monitoring and electronic verification that patrons are over the age of 21.
Licensing priority is going to be given to marijuana business entrepreneurs convicted of low-level marijuana offenses, as well as those hailing from low-income communities. Although this might seem an odd choice, it was done specifically with the intention of combating the negative impact of the failed “War on Drugs.” It’s no secret government enforcement of these tough-on-drug policies disproportionately impacted low-income communities.
Legalization of marijuana in Los Angeles has the potential to alter the landscape of the marijuana industry in California, currently valued at an estimated $7 billion. No other city of this size has previously attempted this kind of regulatory undertaking with regard to marijuana, and it’s likely many other municipalities are going to be watching and studying. They will adopt the policies that work and learn from the ones that do not.
There is still some uncertainty, though, given that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an outspoken opponent of marijuana rights, and has been urging the Department of Justice to take a harder line on enforcing federal laws, which still classify the substance as a Schedule I narcotic.
New marijuana businesses looking to capitalize on the potential in L.A. should speak to an experienced marijuana business attorney.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Los Angeles Is Set To Become The Largest U.S. City With Legal Marijuana, Dec. 6, 2017, By Matt Ferner, The Huffington Post
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Marijuana as a Replacement to Opioids, Dec. 6, 2017, L.A. Marijuana Attorney Blog