California voted last November to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. Its largest city, Los Angeles, decided early in the legalization process that it would implement its own local regulations on top of California’s already extensive set of cannabis laws.
Last week, the Los Angeles city council voted unanimously to pass regulations that dictate how recreational Los Angeles marijuana sales will be implemented, which will become legal in the state of California on January 1st, 2018. Once Mayor Eric Garcetti signs these regulations into law, Los Angeles will become the largest city in the United States to allow the regulated sales of recreational cannabis.
HOW NEW MARIJUANA REGULATIONS AFFECTS LOS ANGELES
Los Angeles hopes to lead by example with these new marijuana regulations and become a guiding light for other cities in California and across the country. City Council President Herb Wesson said, “There are cities throughout this country that are looking at us today.”
The process of creating regulations for a new product that is moving from the black market to a regulated market are extensive and complicated in nature. It is expected that Los Angeles’ new marijuana regulations will undergo a series of revisions once they have been tested within the marketplace. While changes are expected, the regulations do provide strict directions as to how and where marijuana businesses will be able to operate within city limits.
Retail recreational marijuana stores will only be allowed in specific industrial and commercial zones and are prohibited within 750 feet of a school or public libraries. Growers and producers of cannabis products will be relegated to the same industrial zones as retail shops and are prohibited within 600 feet of schools. Marijuana businesses will also be forced to have strict video surveillance and verification systems that make sure patrons are over 21. While full details have not yet been released, Los Angeles will be placing a cap on the number of marijuana businesses allowed within city limits.
To help counteract some of the negative effects the war on drugs has had on the city, Los Angeles will give cannabis business application preference to people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana offenses and potential business owners from low-income communities.
LOS ANGELES LEADING BY EXAMPLE
The California legal marijuana industry is expected to generate nearly $7 billion in 2018. With seven other states now having legal recreational marijuana programs and many more expected to follow suit in the coming years, major California cities like Los Angeles will be key in proving to the rest of the U.S. that a well regulated legal marijuana program is indeed possible and good for the economy.
Success in Los Angeles and California will also be key in proving to the Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department that pursuing legal actions against states and their citizens who support marijuana legalization is futile if the state and its major cities are operating safely, securely, and up to code.
Backlash will only continue to mount if the Sessions DOJ goes after businesses that are following the extensive laws instituted at the state and local levels.