Faced with heavy lobbying by the owners of the city’s four existing medical cannabis retailers, the West Hollywood City Council on Monday will consider extending once again their temporary recreational cannabis sales licenses, now set to expire on Dec. 31 of this year, until March 31, 2020. A proposal from City Hall staffers recommends that there be no more extensions after that date.
The City Council voted in 2017 to give the medical cannabis businesses temporary permits to sell recreational cannabis beginning on Jan. 2, 2018. That was to permit such sales, legalized in California in 2016 by the passage of state Proposition 64, while the city put in place a complex and impartial system to review applications for up to eight licenses for recreational cannabis sales as well as eight licenses in four other categories. Applicants were not allowed to contact the judges, who were appointed by City Manager Paul Arevalo, and neither were members of the City Council
However, when the scores of the 94 applicants for recreational cannabis sales were revealed in December of last year, none of the existing West Hollywood businesses ranked among the top eight applicants. The City Council, under pressure from the medical cannabis shop owners and some of their employees, then agreed to extend the temporary recreational sales licenses until the end of this year. Several Council members have benefitted, at least tangentially, from donations from the existing cannabis businesses or their owners. Adam Bierman, CEO of MedMen, donated $500 to City Councilmember John D’Amico’s re-election campaign. MedMen also has been a sponsor of the Voice Awards of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, a non-profit group chaired until recently by Mayor John Duran that is frequent recipient of donations from city vendors, contractors and developers.
The latest proposed extension comes after heavy lobbying from the existing cannabis businesses. Those businesses have banded together as a group dubbed “The Originals.” They are Alternative Herbal Health Services at 7828 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group at 7213 Santa Monica Blvd., MedMen WeHo at 8208 Santa Monica Blvd. and Zen Healing at 8464 Santa Monica Blvd. They have engaged James Litz, a public affairs and land use consultant who has served on various West Hollywood boards and commissioners, to lobby in their behalf.
Published: June 12, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News