Los Angeles’ marijuana licensing and social equity program might be in for another round of major changes, spurred by a stream of complaints to the City Council and regulators by license applicants who have yet to open their businesses.
Also, political finger-pointing over the program’s shortfalls has erupted in recent months, with a city councilman and the chief of the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) trading barbs in formal city documents.
The situation reflects how mired in red tape, bureaucracy and delays the city’s licensing process has been for years, industry insiders said, despite major overhauls to the program.
But a few industry officials also indicated they are now hopeful a boiling point might have been reached and that proposed changes could make the process work easier for the 100-some social equity retailers that have yet to receive their city licenses.
Some of the possible changes – which are likely to be a mashup of suggestions from Council members and city regulators – include:
- Extending the timelines for social equity applicants to file paperwork or even refile their entire applications.
- Changing definitions, including “owner,” in city statutes to conform with state law.
- Allowing social equity applicants to change locations while retaining their chance for licensure.
- Creating an “expedited” licensing process for applicants who can afford to pay higher fees.
- Tweaking the definition of “undue concentration” for retailers to allow more businesses in certain city neighborhoods.
- Allowing multiple social equity applicants to aggregate their “shares” in the majority ownership of a single business.
The first of 200 social equity retail marijuana shops opened earlier this year, but the vast majority have yet to obtain their permits.
Published: November 16, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News