Los Angeles marijuana chief Cat Packer steps down

Cat Packer, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation, is leaving the post after nearly five years in the role.

Under Packer’s leadership, the city’s cannabis overseer issued more than 1,200 licenses, including 350-plus granted to social equity applicants, the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti noted in announcing the departure.

Packer was at the center of an ongoing battle in the city over marijuana licensing, saying her department had been underfunded since its inception in 2017 and that the agency faced an overwhelming task that was nearly impossible to achieve.

L.A.’s marijuana program has been mired in red tape, bureaucracy and delays for years.

Virgil Grant, a Los Angeles dispensary owner and co-founder of the California Minority Alliance, called Packer the “fall person” who took the blame for a “department that has not done its job since it has been formed and created,” according to EUR/Electronic Urban Report.

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“LA should have been the number one cannabis market in the world,” he said. “LA looks like the biggest joke in the world because of everyone in that department.”

Michelle Garakian, assistant executive director of the Department of Cannabis Regulation, has been appointed interim executive director.