Approved amendments to Los Angeles cannabis rules could stimulate policy reform

Approved amendments to Los Angeles cannabis rules could stimulate policy reform

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

An April lawsuit filed against the City of Los Angeles by Social Equity Owners and the Workers Association has since been dropped. The decision comes after officials agreed to begin processing additional applications last month.

Initial approval to amend cannabis social equity and business licensing rules in Los Angeles was provided by the City Council on Wednesday, July 1. This decision means that months-long delays in distributing licenses among cannabis business owners in Los Angeles has officially come to an end. 

As a result of this, stakeholders can breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that they may soon start seeing a positive return on investment.

Language contained in proposals to amend Los Angeles cannabis rules vary 

Supported by the L.A. Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), the proposal to change cannabis social equity and business licensing rules in Los Angeles constituted a number of amendments. Included in the recommendations, which were sent to the City Council by the DCR, is a cap on the retail license-awarding process until the year 2025.

Although the recommendations have already been voted on by the Council, a review process must commence on the Council’s behalf before the mayor can sign the new cannabis social equity and business licensing rules in Los Angeles into law.

“If this is adopted, we’re going to walk away with the strongest protections. I think we’ll be back in front of Council with additional recommendations. But I appreciate the Council’s support on these recommendations today,” said DCR Executive Director Cat Packer during the hearing last month. 

Packer is optimistic that applicants will be able to get their hands on storefront retail permits and delivery licenses as soon as possible. She hopes that this will lift the brakes on the licensing process, which has been postponed since fall of 2019. During the July 1 hearing, Packer also touched upon the topic of safeguarding social equity participants from “predatory practices”.

Another motion that was adopted by the City Council was introduced by member Marquees Harris-Dawson. She recommended fast-tracking approval for last summer’s 100 social equity retail license winners in Los Angeles.

Concerns have been raised regarding lack of retail permits among social equity applicants in Los Angeles 

Despite the fact that Los Angeles City Council recently approved diverse rule changes for cannabis reform, it does not change the fact that the city has been working at a snail’s pace on social equity issues. Over the courts of the past three years, no retail permits have been issued among social equity applicants across the Californian city.

As a direct effect of this poor effort by state leaders, stakeholders have been forced to leave significant sums of money on the table; rented retail properties have been left unused. Executive director of the Southern California Coalition, Adam Spiker, is not sold on the idea that the proposed changes for cannabis reform will have any positive repercussions.

“Maybe they’re good changes. Maybe they’re not. I’m just not convinced that some of the recommendations they made are going to help bring about a prosperous, legal cannabis market in the city as soon as possible,” Spiker admitted to reporters. 

His opinion is shared by many people who feel that the black market could be fueled by the changes, what with so many people unable to bag a retail permit just yet. Attorney Ariel Clark is one example. He provided representation for a wide range of clients involved in the social equity program.

“While the changes are mostly positive and comprehensive on paper, they don’t help equity applicants who needed support 12 months ago,” he emailed reporters at MJBizdaily, adding that, “a lot of great equity business owners were left behind by the city’s silence, so I hope they move very quickly to grant those temporary licenses because every day that passes is another opportunity lost.”