On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve licensed cannabis cultivation and sales within city limits beginning in 2018, becoming the largest city in America to do so.
Now just awaiting Mayor Eric Garcetti’s approval, the new marijuana regulations will take effect immediately once signed.
“The other cities in this nation, they are looking to L.A.,” said City Council President Herb Wesson.
Though California voters approved recreational marijuana legalization by a significant margin in November, cities have had the opportunity to either opt out of an adult-use market or establish regulations that fit their community best. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed a bill Wednesday that would authorize recreational cannabis sales within the city in January.
Besides raising consumer safety standards and increasing ease of access for people in need, legalization will also bring hoards of new tax revenue to debt-riddled California as a projected $7 billion industry finally takes flight.
The city regulations passed yesterday dictate additional procedures Los Angeles-area cannabis businesses would have to abide by in addition to state guidelines announced last month. For example, growers must obtain their LA local permits before applying for the respective state license they will need to operate legally.
While many regions attempting to legalize are grappling with how to recognize the immense damage caused by the war on drugs on certain communities in their area, Los Angeles made sure those affected most would not be forgotten in this new era for cannabis in the city. The regulations that were passed Wednesday include language that protects individuals who were previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes or live in areas that experienced disproportionate arrest rates. The city will establish a program to eliminate traditional barriers to business ownership by offering training courses, learning programs for employees, and technical assistance.
One major concern of business owners and local lawmakers alike that has gone unaddressed is the lack of banking options for the cash-rich industry to utilize. Because of the ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis, federally insured banking institutions are terrified of doing business with cannabis companies. The city of Los Angeles, cognisant of the massive influx of cash they’re about to receive when the market opens up, has explored the possibility of establishing a city-owned bank that serves the industry’s needs.
Because of how late in the year the regulations are being solidified and the number of holidays between now and the official opening day of recreational sales in California, analysts question whether many officially licensed legal recreational shops will even be open for business on New Year’s Day when they become eligible. Regardless, adult visitors and residents of Los Angeles should have zero issue finding great weed next year and beyond.
Applications for temporary California cannabis business licenses for retail, distribution, microbusiness, testing laboratories, and events can be found here.
Photo courtesy of Giuseppe Milo