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L.A. Cannabis Director Says Audit of Social Equity Program to Begin

The head of Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation said Monday her department will not move on to the next phase of a program that provides specialized cannabis retail licenses until a third-party audit of its latest phase is completed.

Cat Packer, the department’s executive director, said Mayor Eric Garcetti last week called for an independent review of the Social Equity Program application process for the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 and stated that the final licensing process will not continue until the completion of the audit.

Packer said the department will continue to process Phase 3 Retail Round 1 applications per city law until 100 applicants are determined to be eligible for further processing. However, the department will not continue to the next phase of licensing until the audit process is complete.

The Social Equity Program is open to people who are considered low-income and/or have a low-level criminal history related to cannabis and operate in a “dispensary-impacted area,” most of which are located in South Los Angeles and Hollywood.

“The department is extremely empathetic to the concerns of the community and is working actively with city leaders and community stakeholders to seek, consider and recommend any legislative changes and policy amendments that may be necessary to ensure the fidelity of the nation’s largest cannabis licensing regime,” Packer said in a prepared statement late Monday afternoon.

Dozens of program applicants who attended a meeting of the Los Angeles Cannabis Regulation Commission last month complained about the process. Some suggested that their applications were not fairly processed, while others said the website wouldn’t work with their internet speeds. Some said they believed certain people were given priority in the system.

DCR reported that in total, during the third phase of the 14-day application period that started Sept. 3, it received 802 applications for about 100 available licenses from verified applicants, and each of them had already made investments associated with the licensing process.

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Published: November 18, 2019

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