Last March, when local voters approved Proposition M, legalizing sales of marijuana for recreational use in Los Angeles, and empowering the city to create a regulatory scheme for the commerce, it triggered a huge local effort to craft and approve a new system of regulations that will control marijuana sales in the city, starting in 2018.
First of all, the state of California will start issuing marijuana sales licenses next year, and all cannabis sellers in Los Angeles will, first and foremost, need a state license to do business here. But regulations regarding city agencies that deal with marijuana sales, allowed locations of marijuana sellers, and many other details, are being left up to the city…and the city attorney’s office is now gradually drafting a series of ordinances to deal with each of those details.
The first piece of local legislation passed to deal with cannabis sales in Los Angeles, which was adopted by the City Council in August, was an ordinance establishing a Department of Cannabis Regulation and a Cannabis Commission.
The second piece of the local cannabis regulatory scheme is a draft ordinance called the Commercial Cannabis Location Restriction Ordinance, which is scheduled for a discussion and vote by the City Planning Commission on Thursday, September 14.
The ordinance will allow certain kinds of specifically-defined commercial cannabis activity to operate legally in the city, as long as it is conducted by someone with both a state and city license, operates within specifically approved land use zones, and is a minimum distance (currently set at 800 feet – the typical length of a full city block) from “sensitive uses” such as schools, public libraries, public parks, drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation facilities, and other cannabis retail locations.
The draft ordinance has already had one public hearing at the CPC, on June 29, and – according to the staff report at the link above – the draft was revised in several ways after that meeting. First, it eliminated language saying sales activity would be prohibited unless it met certain conditions…and replaced it with more positive language, said to be better aligned with new laws, simply setting forth the conditions under which cannibis commerce will be legal when the new laws take effect.
Also, based on comments at the June 29 hearing, the list of “sensitive uses” was revised to eliminate several kinds of locations listed in the first draft of the ordinance (and which are included in current medical marijuana rules). These included religious institutions and youth centers (both of which are often very loosely organized and have no official definition or registration with the city), and supervised child care/daycare centers and preschools, where it’s assumed that the youth being cared for will remain supervised within the facility and will not come into contact with nearby marijuana sales or customers.
So, in general according to the current draft ordinance, sales of cannabis products would soon be legal in any zone where other retail sales are legal, as long as they are fully licensed, and are located outside the specific radius distances from schools, public libraries and parks, drug and alcohol treatment/rehabilitation facilities and other locations where marijuana is sold.
The draft ordinance also sets forth rules for the locations of cannabis cultivation, delivery businesses, and “microbusinesses,” which will largely be restricted to manufacturing and agricultural zones, depending on the type of business activity.
Finally, the current draft ordinance does not address the issue of on-site consumption of cannabis products at retail locations, which will be addressed, along with other operating issues, in another forthcoming ordinance specifically defining operating standards for cannabis businesses in Los Angeles.