In a series of recommendations to the Los Angeles City Council, L.A.’s Department of Cannabis Regulation proposed an immense overhaul of its marijuana business licensing construction and social equity program.
The DCR’s proposals are set to be taken up Tuesday by a City Council committee.
The suggestions, if adopted, might be far-reaching for many marijuana entrepreneurs hoping to win a metropolis business license. The suggestions had been each hailed and derided by trade officers after their launch.
Supporters say the DCR’s suggestions characterize a success of town’s extensively criticized social equity program.
But critics argue they may wreak additional havoc within the trade by disenfranchising legacy operators who don’t qualify for social equity and haven’t but obtained metropolis permits.
The suggestions, despatched to the City Council on June 16, are the primary major transfer made by the DCR for the reason that completion of an unbiased audit in March of its newest licensing spherical for 100 retail licenses final fall. City licensing has been on maintain since then.
The suggestions embody:
- Granting non permanent approval for all social equity license candidates.
- Allowing candidates and companies to relocate inside the metropolis; at the moment, candidates are required to discover a location and keep it up by means of the licensing course of.
- Limiting new storefront retail licenses and supply licenses to social equity candidates till 2025.
- Improving processes to reduce “predatory practices” within the social equity program.
The proposals should nonetheless be authorized by the City Council earlier than being carried out, and it’s unclear whether or not the council will select to rubber-stamp the adjustments or approve some and reject others.
The suggestions will first be taken up on Tuesday morning by the council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.
The DCR declined interview requests from Marijuana Business Daily to make clear or clarify lots of its suggestions.
But, requested if the “temporary approval” for all candidates meant the DCR was suggesting a rise within the variety of licenses out there, an company spokesman wrote in an e-mail that “many licensing and social equity program stakeholders have expressed support for additional retail licenses to be made available, and the Department agrees that it’s an issue worth deliberate consideration by policymakers.”
Still, many observers imagine that’s a nonstarter based mostly on the political dynamics of the City Council, which has been reluctant to considerably develop the variety of authorized marijuana business permits.
The DCR’s suggestions had been additionally introduced on the heels of a motion that, if adopted, would restart the licensing course of for the 100 retail winners from final September’s social equity retail allow spherical. The movement was submitted by L.A. City Councilman Marquees Harris-Dawson.
Those 100 have been in limbo for greater than 9 months whereas the licensing course of has been on maintain, which means they haven’t been in a position to open their shops.
Harris-Dawson’s movement will even be thought-about Tuesday by the Rules Committee, making it unclear what the complete council will do with the DCR’s proposals.
Spokespeople for Harris-Dawson and the opposite two members of the committee didn’t reply to a request for remark.
“I think it’s fantastic,” trade marketing consultant Lynne Lyman stated of the DCR’s suggestions. She’s been lively for years in L.A. hashish politics and now works with trade shoppers.
“It’s like this big omnibus fix for the whole ordinance, and it really re-creates the social equity program to make it work, because it has not worked.”
Others, nonetheless, stated the suggestions would disenfranchise anybody who isn’t a certified social equity applicant, for the reason that DCR proposes to provide all future retail permits solely to social equity recipients.
That would depart out many legacy dispensary operators who’ve been ready for greater than two years for their probability at a allow, for the reason that present licensing window – Phase 3 – was speculated to have a spherical open for most people.
“This is a major course change, because you’re saying, if you’re not a social equity applicant, you can’t get a license, at least until 2025,” stated lawyer Michael Chernis, who has shoppers each within the social equity program and outdoors it.
Chernis emphasised he helps the social equity program however stated this method would “cut off any chance for anyone but a social equity applicant to get a retail license, a non-storefront retail license or, as far as I can tell, any license for five years.”
“My initial reaction is it’s really unfair to people who are not social equity applicants, because there are a lot of people who were waiting patiently to be licensed … resisting the temptation to operate illegally in the hopes of becoming licensed,” Chernis stated.
Adam Spiker, the chief director of the Southern California Coalition, echoed Chernis’ level and stated it will be unfair to ask legacy operators who had run medical marijuana dispensaries within the metropolis for years earlier than 2018 to surrender a minimum of 51% possession of their firms in trade for a social equity accomplice – a requirement to get a allow if the City Council adopts the DCR proposals.
If that’s the case, Lyman stated she’s fantastic with it. She stated a lot hurt was accomplished to minorities in the course of the battle on medicine, so granting permits solely to social equity candidates could be tantamount to affirmative motion.
“This is what affirmative action looks like in practice, and it’s the right thing to do,” Lyman stated.
Lawsuit nonetheless a attainable issue
Another difficulty the council may need to think about whereas pondering the DCR’s suggestions is an ongoing lawsuit from one of many social equity candidates who’s asking the courts to drive L.A. to redo final fall’s licensing and throw out the 100 retail winners.
That swimsuit has the potential to upend the licensing course of in an much more disruptive manner if the plaintiff within the case, actor Madison Shockley III, wins.
Currently, the case is about for a July 9 listening to for a requested preliminary injunction towards town, and an injunction might imply additional licensing delays till the case is completed.
The case is scheduled for a trial convention in September.
“The fact that we have this injunction hearing is … the first recognition of our argument we’ve been making the last eight months – that this wasn’t a fair process,” Shockley stated.
John Schroyer may be reached at [email protected]