In a four to one vote, the West Hollywood City Council tonight agreed to extend the recreational cannabis sales licenses granted temporarily to four existing medical cannabis businesses until the eight newly licensed businesses are up and running.
In making that decision, the Council effectively rejected a demand from the existing medical cannabis businesses that they be granted renewable licenses to sell recreational cannabis, licenses for which they failed to qualify in a complex application process last year.
However, the Council’s decision did give those existing cannabis operators latitude to operate beyond Dec. 31, 2019, which is when City Hall staff had recommended ending the temporary recreational cannabis licenses. Council members expressed concern that the newly licensed businesses might not have negotiated the leases and obtained the building and business licensing permits they need to open by then.
The Council’s decision came during an unusual standing room only meeting where dozens of people in the audience wore red shirts carrying the MedMen brand and 52 people stood up to speak before the Council about the issue. MedMen, which operates 35 shops in 12 states and whose stock is traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange, is one of the four existing medical cannabis businesses that have dubbed themselves “The Originals.” The others are Alternative Herbal Health Services, Los Angeles Patients and Caregivers Group, and Zen Healing Collective. In recent months, those four businesses have campaigned to get the City Council to reverse its earlier decision to grant eight cannabis licenses in each of five different categories only to the businesses who ranked highest in each category. The “Originals” were granted an exception in that they qualified for new medical cannabis licenses without going through the application process. That process involved an analysis by an independent group appointed by City Manager Paul Arevalo of 313 applications that used 54 criteria approved by the City Council.
While the Originals argued that they should have been grandfathered into the process and automatically guaranteed recreational cannabis licenses, Councilmember Lindsey Horvath noted that the four actually were automatically granted new medical cannabis licenses without having to go through the lengthy and expensive application process, with a fee of almost $10,000, that was required of those seeking the other four medical cannabis licenses. “We set up a process that grandfathered them in as the kind of businesses that they were,” Horvath said.
Published: June 18, 2019