L.A. Considers Social Equity Overhaul for Cannabis Industry

The LA City Council is considering major changes to its system for cannabis business licenses.
L.A. Considers Social Equity Overhaul For Cannabis Industry

After a lot of community blowback about not being inclusive enough and a failed attempt at social equity last year, The Los Angeles City Council may adopt new cannabis licensing and social equity plans that would overhaul the existing licensing system. 

This new proposal comes from the Department of Cannabis Regulation, and it would be a pretty major move. The plan would be to grant temporary approval to all social equity applicants. It would also allow those with cannabis licenses to relocate within the city, and would limit those getting new licenses to only social equity folks through 2025. 

This new proposal would also take steps to ensure that existing, predatory practices are outlawed, as well as clarify the process for participating in the social equity program and requesting a finding of Public Convenience or Necessity. It also lays out criteria for the social equity program and amends the selection process. 

“Since the beginning of the City’s commercial cannabis licensing program in 2018, DCR has made significant progress towards the goals of the program,” the city’s report explains. “However, it is the Department’s position that immediate and comprehensive amendments are necessary for a more responsible and equitable Licensing and Social Equity Program. The Department of Cannabis Regulation seeks to improve the administration of the City’s commercial cannabis Licensing and Social Equity Program.” 

The report was first introduced this past Tuesday, but the proposals must still be approved by the City Council before it can be acted on. They may choose to accept some changes and still reject others. 

Reception To The Overhaul

So far, the recommendations have largely been applauded, although some people have pointed out this would leave out legacy operators waiting for licenses who don’t meet the criteria. Cannabis attorney Michael Chernis, claimed in the report that he likes the idea overall, but doesn’t like the fact that it would “cut off any chance for anyone but a social equity applicant to get a retail license, a non-storefront retail license or, as far as I can tell, any license for five years.”

Still, most feel this is a major step in the right direction. It’s also a somewhat necessary direction, as the city is currently dealing with a lawsuit from the Social Equity and Workers Association regarding the city’s first attempt at social equity licensing last September. Those suing the city claim that some who were hoping to get licenses were able to access the applications first, giving them an unfair advantage. 

Thus, the city is trying to make it so that the equity business licenses aren’t so coveted, and so that everyone will get a chance to claim their own. It still remains to be seen if they will fully adopt these new suggestions or go another route, but either way, the city is recognizing that social equity is a problem that needs to be fixed.

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