Los Angeles lawmakers backed a host of new regulations for the marijuana industry Wednesday, paving the way for the hotly anticipated business of recreational pot.
Despite a slew of concerns about the exact details of the plan, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12 to 0 for the regulations, which now go to the mayor for his approval.
The elaborate rules reflect a tug-of-war at City Hall over the hopes and fears for the soon-to-be-legalized industry. They have been a prime focus of Council President Herb Wesson, who said Wednesday that cities across the country will be looking to Los Angeles.
“Let’s make history,” Wesson said before the vote.
The City Council has been eager to pull in new revenue from the marijuana business, which is expected to generate more than $50 million in tax revenue for the city next year. Recreational pot will be legal in California as of Jan. 1.
The council also has vowed to make sure that disadvantaged communities that were hit hardest by the war on drugs can now cash in, a quest near and dear to political progressives.
Under its “social equity” program, the city will give priority processing and other assistance to marijuana business applicants who are poor and were previously convicted of some marijuana crimes — or who have lived in areas that were heavily affected by cannabis arrests.
While other cities have shied away from marijuana, “this is a city that is ready to make the jump and not just put their toe in the water,” said Brad Rowe, an adjunct professor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and CEO of the research and consulting firm Botec Analysis.
But L.A. lawmakers have also imposed a long list of restrictions on where marijuana shops and other businesses can open their doors, amid concerns that the