Business Law Licensing Local News Politics

LA Council pushes marijuana regulators to clear the haze around license delays

The LA City Council will consider directing the City’s Department of Cannabis Regulation to speed up the licensing process for many would-be marijuana retailers.

“Stakeholders report waiting months to receive basic licensing responses from DCR,” Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price, Jr. said a motion introduced this week.

“Hundreds of critical license modification requests remain unprocessed, many almost a year after submission,” they said.

The long delays have meant many applicants, including more than 100 who qualified under the City’s social equity program, have spent untold sums of money renting commercial space while waiting for their permits to be approved. Holding a suitable space is a licensing requirement for many applicants.

“It’s a complete mess,” said Johnny Sayegh with the Cannabis Equity Retailers Association, a group advocating for the social equity applicants in LA. He said there are many people who qualified for a license who have been paying rent but can’t start doing business.

“Someone who’s been holding a property since May of 2019, nearly two and a half years in, you’ve probably committed hundreds of thousands of dollars. So it’s just like it’s one big fiasco,” he said.

The Department of Cannabis Regulation said in a lengthy statement that the Council’s push for more immediate deadlines could have the opposite of the intended effect, causing applications to be denied or abandoned because business owners might not have enough time to complete all of the requirements.

“The Department of Cannabis Regulation remains committed to ensuring cannabis business licensing in Los Angeles is as fast, efficient and equitable as possible,” DCR executive director Cat Packer told the I-Team in a prepared statement.

“It is my mission to ensure that the Department will continue to provide support and prompt service in the face of extreme challenges we’ve all faced this year with COVID-19, and subsequent City hiring freezes,” the statement said.

Just south of the garment district in Downtown LA Crystal Ryan and her husband Joe say they’ve been in limbo for more than a year after being selected for one social equity retail location in that part of the City.

“I grew up in South Central, so my zip code qualified me to become an applicant,” she told the I-Team. “I’m the only Mexican-American Latina that has actually applied here!”

The Ryans have filed a writ of mandate in LA Superior Court to try to compel the City and DCR to allow her store, still sitting empty at Main and 11th Streets, to open.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Eric Leonard on NBC 4 News Los Angeles

Published: October 02, 2021

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