L.A. City Council moves ahead with marijuana licensing and enforcement proposals

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday forged ahead with two cannabis industry proposals: one to clamp down on illegal shops and one to start another licensing round.

The first proposal, to cut off utilities for unlicensed shops that have been running amok in L.A. for years, passed quickly.

The second, however, involved much more heated debate.

Though only a proposal at this point to implement recommendations from the city’s Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), the move was interpreted by social equity backers as passing them over in favor of “special interests.” The proposal includes a rough timeline of licensing for a third licensing round open to the general public this spring.

“I understand those special-interest groups and deep pockets are pressuring the Council to pass Phase 3 to meet their agenda, but that’s at the expense of black and Latino social equity applicants, who haven’t received any assistance from DCR, as promised,” one social equity applicant told the Council.

Despite similar objections from other social equity applicants and activists, the Council voted 11-0 to move to the next step, which is to draft an ordinance that will allow the DCR to begin Phase 3 licensing.

Although the council has previously voted to budget $250,000 for the social equity program, the money has yet to be allocated, DCR Assistant Executive Director Michelle Garakian told Marijuana Business Daily. Garakian said the L.A. city budget should be finalized in June.

Virgil Grant, the co-founder of the California Minority Alliance and one of just 185 licensees currently doing business legally in L.A., told Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday he supports the Council’s move to start Phase 3.

“We have too many people who have been holding onto their locations for almost two years now,” Grant said.

“How much longer do you want them to bleed out before you give them some relief by giving them a license?”

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

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