After more than a year of official hearings and public input, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday cleared a major hurdle, voting to approve a package of three ordinances that will govern the city’s medical and adult-use cannabis industries when the state’s legal market launches next year.
“Today is the day, today is the vote, today is our moment to set the tone … for the rest of this country,” City Council President Herb Wesson prior to the vote, predicting the rules could become a template for other cities across the country. “That’s who we are. That’s how we roll.”
California Releases Emergency Cannabis Regulations
The council’s approval comes just weeks before California’s state-regulated cannabis market goes online, on Jan. 1. Given the timing of the vote, industry observers say it’s unlikely LA will see legal sales begin that day.
“We’re going to see state-licensed cannabis businesses in Los Angeles in the next couple months,” Ariel Clark, an attorney at Clark Neubert and founder of the LA Cannabis Task Force, told Leafly after the vote.
While there won’t be a formal cap on the number of licenses available in the city, zoning requirements and other restrictions may impose their own limitations.
Los Angeles has long been an unruly frontier in the cannabis industry, where hundreds of illegal dispensaries and cultivators proliferated. The legal marketplace is seen as a way to impose order, hopefully squeezing out illegal operators while raising a cascade of new taxes for City Hall.
The city’s final regulations, which have been in formal development since May 2016, will govern a wide range of business operations, including where cannabis businesses may be located, the local licensing process they’ll have to undergo, and daily matters such as security and surveillance systems.