Commercial Cannabis Businesses Could Become a Reality in LA County

Daily News reported that on Tuesday, Feb. 15, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors made the decision to allow the development and implementation of an equity-driven system that would be used to license commercial cannabis operations in its unincorporated areas.

But what does this mean for the cannabis space in LA?


With this action, the board is showing that it’s ready to stop the county’s drawn-out ban on cannabis dispensaries and other marijuana-related activities. Since 2010, the county has prohibited dispensaries in its unincorporated areas. But this was expanded upon in 2017, banning cultivators, manufacturers, testing, and distribution operations related to cannabis unless it was for personal consumption.

With the state’s vote that legalized marijuana in 2016 and legal adult-use sales launched in January 2018, LA County is behind on the times.

The board’s decision instructed its Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to begin developing and implementing a commercial cannabis licensing program to be used throughout these unincorporated areas. This will start with a limited number of licenses and “equity” applicants will be prioritized.

Through this framework authorized by the board, up to 25 delivery, 25 retail, 10 manufacturing, 10 distribution, 10 cultivation, and 10 testing licenses may be allocated to applicants. The idea behind limiting the licenses at this point is to ensure that these permits are equitably distributed throughout the community.

“A cannabis program that is safe, regulated and equitable is necessary for unincorporated L.A. County and for addressing the injustices that have caused communities of color to be disproportionately criminalized and shut out of economic gains from the legalization of cannabis,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell, the co-author of the motion.

After observing illicit cannabis operations and the trouble they’ve caused throughout the unincorporated areas, county officials believe this is how they’ll resolve some of the safety issues impacting neighborhoods. The illegal market breeds violence and organized criminal activity, and this motion is meant to mitigate some of it.

“For the past few years, my office and I have worked closely with many community members to combat illegal cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas of the First District,” explained Supervisor Hilda Solis, another co-author of the motion. “And while we’ve been able to shut down many illegal dispensaries quickly and permanently, our residents remain frustrated on the lack of effective measures to protect their families from the negative impacts of these unlicensed establishments while also respecting the intent of California’s voters who supported the legalization of cannabis.”

She went on to explain that now is the right time “to begin developing a plan for the legal distribution, retail, manufacturing, and enforcement and regulation of cannabis in unincorporated Los Angeles County that is rooted in equitable access, strong and effective enforcement, and community awareness and education.”

Do you think this motion will be successful? How do you think it will impact the problems observed in unincorporated Los Angeles County? Let us know in the comments below!

Louis Levey is the Content Success Manager and Founder at No Strings Content. He's passionate about helping cannabis businesses use content to attract, educate, and convert audiences. His hometown is Boca Raton, Florida, but he currently lives and works remotely in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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