The Los Angeles medical marijuana industry is bracing itself for the possibility of a complete ban on storefront cannabis dispensaries as the idea gains traction among local officials.
A three-person City Council planning committee voted in favor of a proposal that would force the hundreds of medical marijuana centers in Los Angeles to close and prevent new ones from opening. The proposal now moves to a public safety committee and will then head to the full council for a final vote.
A ban on storefront dispensaries is the worst-case scenario for medical marijuana in Los Angeles – the biggest MMJ market in the country – and could have a huge impact on the national cannabis industry.
If approved, the ban would:
– Effectively spell the end of the MMJ industry in Los Angeles as we know it. Business opportunities for medical marijuana entrepreneurs would dry up, and those that stay in the game would have to focus on caregivers and home growers.
– Lead to thousands of direct and indirect job losses at dispensaries and the companies that provide them with products and services. That, in turn, would ripple through the city. Those newly unemployed residents would cut back spending on everything from eating out to entertainment, hurting other local businesses.
– Shift the epicenter of the medical marijuana industry from California to Colorado. Several large cities across California have enacted dispensary bans over the past year, while others have introduced moratoriums. The California MMJ industry is now a shell of its former self and seems to be getting smaller by the day. There’s been some contraction in Colorado, too, but not to the same degree. Colorado still has roughly 650 storefront dispensaries and appears much more stable on the medical marijuana front than California.
– Hurt the medical marijuana movement in general, as losing such a huge market could affect MMJ efforts in other states.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s unclear if there’s enough support for an outright ban on dispensaries in the full council, which has typically been lenient with the industry. The City Council committee also advanced a counterproposal that would allow 100 dispensaries to remain open – which some MMJ advocates support.