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L.A. lawmakers back new regulations on marijuana industry

Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

But L.A. lawmakers have also imposed a long list of restrictions on where marijuana shops and other businesses can open their doors, amid concerns that the pot industry could be a new source of nuisance or blight.

Marijuana industry groups have bristled at some of those rules, which were tightened as the city regulations were drafted, while some neighborhood groups had pressed for much stricter requirements.

"We need to ensure that our communities, and particularly communities of color ... are not negatively impacted by this industry," Councilwoman Nury Martinez said.

Under the new regulations, pot shops can open their doors only in specific commercial and industrial zones and must operate at least 700 feet away from schools, public parks and libraries, child care centers, alcohol and drug treatment centers and other "sensitive" sites, as well as from other pot retailers.

Other kinds of marijuana businesses, including growers and manufacturers, would be confined to industrial zones and banned within 600 feet of schools. And marijuana manufacturers that use volatile solvents would also be prohibited within 200 feet of residential areas.

To prevent an "undue concentration" in neighborhoods, city leaders also decided to cap the number of pot shops, growers, manufacturers and marijuana "micro-businesses," which do a combination of things, allowed in each community.

 

Martinez argued that they were crucial to preventing marijuana businesses from clustering in poor and minority neighborhoods, recounting her frustrations with illegal pot shops flocking to Van Nuys.

The limits are based on population and zoning ratios. City officials have calculated that under those restrictions, no more than 390 pot shops, 336 growers and 520 marijuana manufacturers could currently be licensed across the city.

Micro-businesses, which could also count toward the limits on pot shops or growers if they cultivate or sell marijuana, would be limited to a maximum of 520.

However, planning officials say that in many neighborhoods, zoning restrictions may prevent the number of marijuana businesses from ever reaching those maximum numbers. Virgil Grant, president of the industry group Southern California Coalition, argued that there was no need for such caps because the required buffers from sensitive sites would create "an organic cap."

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