This comes after the council cited it received dozens of complaints about licensing delays, with many complaining they have waited months to receive basic licensing responses from the city.
The council unanimously adopted changes to the city’s cannabis ordinance (pdf) in a motion introduced by Councilors Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price in September 2021.
The motion shortens the timeline of the city’s approval process of commercial cannabis license applications.
The Department of Cannabis Regulation, which is responsible for processing all cannabis licenses, maxed out its licensing capacity due to COVID-19 staffing shortages, according to the motion.
Because of this, the state granted the city $22 million in November 2021 to expedite cannabis licensing.
Harris-Dawson and Price said in the motion that the city should act quickly to “maximize the value of this grant by ensuring that practical and efficient policies are in place at [Department of Cannabis Regulation] so that applications can be promptly processed without having to clear innumerable bureaucratic hurdles that serve no public interest.”
The Studio City Neighborhood Council opposed the ordinance in a letter to the council, saying that the ordinance could create an influx of license applications and that current applicants’ submissions would be even more delayed.
The group said they opposed the ordinance unless the motion was “amended to include both the ineligibility to apply for new licenses or change of address licenses within the boundaries of Neighborhood Council districts that have already reached their quota of cannabis regulation licenses.”
However, other Angelenos—including groups such as United Cannabis Business Association, Cannabis Equity Retailers Association, as well as union United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770—wrote to the city council to support the ordinance.
“We all share the mutual goal of fostering a thriving regulated cannabis industry in Los Angeles,” wrote United Cannabis Business Association president Jerred Kiloh in a letter to the council. “We know that this translates into more revenue and taxes to help fund the various housing, jobs, and social service programs Angelenos are clamoring for. In fact, it is also one of the strongest tools we have to combat the hundreds of illicit shops dotted all across our city.”
John McGrant, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, commended the city for its work to “transform the cannabis industry” in a letter.
“Through the hard work of the City Council and the Department of Cannabis Regulation, we are transforming the industry dominated by illegal shops in which workers are paid under the table or in product and are victims of theft, violence, and harassment, to a safe retail market that respects workers and produces needed tax revenue for the city,” McGrant wrote.
The ordinance also comes with an urgency clause, meaning it will go into effect as soon as it is signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti and published by the City Clerk.
Though it is unclear when the mayor will sign the ordinance, Garcetti signaled his support for the motion by approving the Planning and Land Use Committee’s report in February.
Studio City Neighborhood Council President Randall Fried did not respond to a request for comment by press deadline.