The California cannabis market is likely to be the largest in the United States and in particular the Los Angeles cannabis market will likely be the main hub. There are many marijuana businesses already in operation but with Prop 64 coming, many cities have been forced to revamp their system. The Los Angeles cannabis market may be put on temporary hold as all of the established businesses will have to go though a new permitting process.
Los Angeles lawmakers tentatively backed a sweeping set of proposed regulations for businesses that grow, sell, process and distribute marijuana Monday, the next step toward giving cannabis the stamp of local legitimacy.
But industry groups said that recent changes to the proposed rules would force existing marijuana growers and manufacturers to shut down as they wait to get city licenses, devastating the industry and triggering layoffs.
At a City Council committee hearing, Council President Herb Wesson repeatedly sought to reassure marijuana business owners that he would find a fair way to address those concerns.
“I realize that that’s a flaw and we’re going to try to deal with it,” Wesson said during the meeting. “But I’m not going to let one flaw slow down the process.”
The committee, headed by Wesson, agreed to support the draft regulations. The proposed rules will now go the entire council for a vote before the city attorney drafts the law for final approval.
Los Angeles has been hustling to craft its municipal regulations before California starts issuing state licenses for cannabis businesses next year, legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana across the state. Marijuana businesses will need local approval to get state licenses.
The city first released its draft regulations months ago, but a revised set of rules was made available only Friday.
The draft regulations set out how marijuana businesses can apply for licenses and operate, including what hours they can be open, what records they must keep, and what security systems they have to install. A separate set of zoning rules restricts where they can open their doors.
Cannabis industry groups complained that the revised rules included major changes that could make some businesses shut down in January.
Under the draft regulations, existing pot shops that have been operating according to an earlier set of city restrictions are first in line for city licensing.
When the regulations were first proposed, L.A. was also planning to create a registry for other kinds of marijuana businesses already in operation, such as growers and manufacturers, and allow them to continue to do business while their city applications were being processed.
That plan was scrapped under the revised regulations, which warn that any marijuana business operating without a city license can be targeted by the police and the city attorney. Industry groups such as the Southern California Coalition warned that many existing businesses that supply pot shops with marijuana or cannabis products could wait months for municipal licenses.
“It’s inconceivable how I can shut down my business while waiting for the city to approve my application and also survive,” said Cameron Clarke, who owns a business that makes marijuana edibles and other cannabis products.