On February 15, 2022, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors passed a motion directing the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs’ Office of Cannabis Management to start the development and implementation of an equitable commercial cannabis licensing program in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
The Office of Cannabis Management proposed recommendations in December 2021 following a July 2021 Board directive for a cannabis regulatory framework to address the administrative barriers that create inequitable outcomes and to call for investments to bridge the gaps in educational, technical, and financial resources caused by systemic racism and exacerbated by the War on Drugs.
The recommendations, approved by the Board, recommend launching the commercial cannabis program with a low number of licenses (up to 25 retail, 25 delivery, 10 cultivation, 10 manufacturing, 10 distribution, and 10 testing licenses) with priority for equity applicants. This would allow the County to lead the program with equity, to monitor and assess community impacts and efficacy of regulations, and to build appropriate infrastructure to support potential expansion in the following years.
Until LA County fully develops and launches its cannabis licensing program, all commercial cannabis activities, including retail, delivery, manufacturing, and cultivation, remain prohibited in unincorporated LA County.
“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. And while we’ve been able to shut down many illegal dispensaries quickly and permanently, our residents remain frustrated about 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,” said Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, who authored the Board motion. “To that end, the time is right to begin developing a plan for the legal distribution, retail, manufacturing, 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.”
“A cannabis program that is safe, regulated, and equitable is necessary for unincorporated LA 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 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell, representing the Second District. “I am proud to co-author this motion with Supervisor Solis and look forward to the Office of Cannabis Management leading the development of a framework to expand access to opportunity and reduce the stigma associated with the cannabis industry.”
“Building a truly equitable regulatory program is challenging and requires a critical rethinking of the County’s administrative infrastructures, the cannabis industry including its failures and successes, and government’s role therein,” said DCBA Director Rafael Carbajal, “The Office of Cannabis Management is committed to participating in this process with our partners to create a healthy, sustainable, and equitable cannabis market in Los Angeles County.”
The Board also approved the Office of Cannabis Management’s recommendations for a robust Equity Program, which will provide referrals and access to resources such as education, job training, technical assistance, and capital for qualified candidates. The impact of this program would be monitored by a Cannabis Working Group of subject matter experts and County Departments to track equity data and promote data-driven decision making.
The Office of Cannabis Management will work in collaboration with County Departments, community stakeholders and partners and will hold community engagement meetings to share information and gather feedback.
For more information about the Office of Cannabis Management, including updates on upcoming public and stakeholder engagement meetings and a list of retailers that participate in LA County’s Cannabis Compliance and Enforcement Program, visit cannabis.lacounty.gov.