The Los Angeles City Council gave its preliminary approval to sweeping changes to town’s marijuana enterprise licensing and social equity program, ending months of delays that had held up the allowing course of and sparked widespread frustration amongst stakeholders.

The proposals – which vary from minor tweaks to major changes corresponding to awarding retail licenses solely to social equity candidates till 2025 – had been championed by the L.A. Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), which despatched the suggestions to the City Council final week.

The Council voted on the changes Wednesday. It should approve them as soon as extra, after which the mayor should log off earlier than the changes are applied.

“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,” DCR Executive Director Cat Packer mentioned throughout Wednesday’s listening to whereas discussing requested protections from “predatory practices” for social equity individuals.

Packer added she hopes to make each supply licenses and storefront retail permits out there as shortly as potential to social equity candidates so as to restart the licensing course of, which has been on maintain since final fall.

The City Council additionally adopted a motion by member Marquees Harris-Dawson to get the 100 social equity retail license winners from final yr instantly on monitor for approval.

Doubts raised

However, the vote Wednesday did little to quell the anger in lots of business quarters over prolonged delays which have price stakeholders immense sums in rental funds for enterprise properties which have to date gone unused.

Several insiders repeated the purpose that whereas town has been engaged on social equity for roughly three years, no retail permits have been issued to any social equity applicant. Many cost it’s an apparent failure by town’s leaders.

Adam Spiker, the chief director of the Southern California Coalition, mentioned he and lots of others stay unsure as to whether or not the proposed changes may have any optimistic impacts.

There wasn’t a lot time for stakeholders to digest the proposals themselves.

“Maybe they’re good changes. Maybe they’re not,” Spiker mentioned. “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.”

Zach Pitts, the CEO of supply firm Ganja Goddess, referred to as the event “another step backwards instead of forwards.”

He additionally predicted the changes will solely additional stimulate L.A.’s large illicit market, partly by forcing out many non-social equity legacy operators that haven’t but had a possibility to win retail permits.

Donnie Anderson, co-founder of the California Minority Alliance and a longtime advocate for social equity, mentioned the changes are “a Band-Aid over a wound that needs surgery and stitches.”

“They’re making social equity an afterthought instead of a priority,” Anderson mentioned, reiterating that he believes the present system has been corrupted and isn’t serving the minorities it was supposed to serve.

Attorney Ariel Clark, who represents a swath of purchasers each contained in the social equity program and outdoors of it hoping to achieve MJ enterprise permits, was crucial of the council for having been “radio silent on cannabis issues for a year” earlier than parachuting on this week.

“While the changes are mostly positive and comprehensive on paper, they don’t help equity applicants who needed support 12 months ago,” Clark wrote in an e-mail to Marijuana Business Daily.

“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.”

John Schroyer may be reached at [email protected]

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