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L.A. City Council President Asks Cannabis Regulators to Pause Licensing

November 5, 2019

Last week, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, wrote a letter to the Department of Cannabis Regulation asking them to temporarily pause the licensing process. In his letter, Wesson claims the application portal was compromised due to some applicants accidentally getting early access. 

Audit on Licensing Process

Now, Wesson is asking the Department of Cannabis Regulation to refund all applications for the most recent round of licensing and fund an independent audit on how licenses are issued. Initially, regulators were only going to be reviewing a limited number of cannabis license application, but now the City Council president is demanding that all applications be reviewed in the spirit of fairness.

The application portal was open for submission starting in September, and the system received over 300 applications within 3 minutes. In total, the Department of Cannabis Regulation got an estimated 800 applications from cannabis businesses in the Los Angeles area.

More Licensing Delays

Processing all of these applications is a tedious process and only further delays the licensing process, and now Wesson want to add insult to injury by completely halting licensing to perform an audit. Spokeswoman for the Department of Cannabis Regulation, Michelle Garakian explained that the agency has scheduled a meeting with Wesson’s office to address the suggestions he wrote in his letter.  

While there have been some complaints from owners and investors that some applicants were able to gain early access to the application portal, others couldn’t even login due to slow internet speeds. The competition is stiff for these prized cannabis business licenses with so much money and resources at stake for those who are actually awarded a license so it’s difficult to know who to believe.

Department of Cannabis Regulation Response

Executive Director of the Department of Cannabis Regulation, Cat Packer, commented on these claims saying that two applicants were able to gain early access to the application portal due to a staff error that occurred during a password reset. However, those applications were placed back in their original position in line as soon as regulators were made aware of the situation.

To date, the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation has issued 300 licenses for cannabis retailers, manufacturers, and cultivators while cracking down on illegal marijuana shops. This latest licensing round was a first-come, first-serve process for businesses to apply for up to 100 more retail licenses so it’s easy to see why there is so much finger pointing after the fact. Michelle Garakian went on to say that the department “is committed to the most fair and transparent process possible.”