Just a week ago on this very blog, California’s current struggles with the LA cannabis market were called into question. Many voices within the industry have raised similar concerns and poked holes in the state’s response, but it seems those high up within California’s cannabis system are taking note.
Cat Packer, the leader of Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation, has laid out some adjustments to the city’s proposed plan in a recent interview with Marijuana Business Daily. She acknowledges three areas which the city will attempt to address, and many of them do a good job including the feedback that many critics had of the formerly proposed changes.
In L.A. the high population, high interest, and desire to not make any rash decisions have all come together to make LA cannabis regulation a sticky subject. There’s more demand than the city is prepared to give licenses for, but as prohibition has always proved, if people want something they’ll get it. This means that Los Angeles consumes cannabis at a higher rate than many cities, but has less than 200 licensed cannabis retailers. Simply putting that money back into legal markets should be incentive enough, but there’s more than that at stake.
While marijuana legalization’s critics have all but disappeared, the biggest remaining obstacles are poor experiences by consumers and business owners. In terms of dollar value, the L.A. cannabis market doesn’t differ too strongly from similarly populated cities. However, all of these issues create a far less welcoming environment. While they don’t actively damage the push for further legalization, they have the potential to make selling the idea to other states and markets more difficult.
One of the complaints leveled at Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation is how difficult they make moving one’s retail location. Licenses are very much tied to physical location in the current system, so when profits start to slide it becomes difficult for well-intended business owners to easily go elsewhere. Of course this is just another way in which opening a retail cannabis location is seen as something of a gamble in the L.A. area and pushes many to simply ignore the law.
The original proposed changes stipulated that any business wanting to deliver cannabis would need to meet “social equity minimums” which were intended to get victims of the war on drugs easier access to jobs in those markets. Anyone under a certain income bracket is also eligible, and the state has more carefully chosen the communities which have been most affected and would see the most benefit from this new approach. They’ve also decided on a more fair lottery system to give out worker’s licenses rather than a first-come first-serve basis which can be more easily manipulated.
While meeting this minimum is a requirement for any business that wants a delivery license until 2025, this is one of the areas in which even Packer’s proposed changes may still be lacking. Many have pointed out that this actually works against the city’s goal to increase availability and ease with which entrepreneurs can open a retail cannabis location. That remains the case, but at least changes like allowing businesses to more easily change location may alleviate these issues by letting employers where the consumers as well as the potential employees are.
The fact that California is concerned at all about these issues speaks volumes about the distance medicinal and recreational cannabis has come, and amending their proposal to include common public criticisms represents good sense on their part. Every day, LA cannabis sees more and more push for it and its community to be treated appropriately.