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L.A. lawmakers back new regulations on marijuana industry

Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Sarah Armstrong, who serves as policy chair of the coalition, said she was worried about whether growers would be able to find enough space. "The great beating heart of the industry is the cultivators," Armstrong said. "Without that, there is no industry."

But cannabis entrepreneurs nonetheless heralded the new regulations as a victory, allowing business to move forward in what is expected to be one of the hottest marijuana markets in the country. Ricardo Mendoza, who manages a marijuana shop in Culver City, said his dispensary was planning to set up shop in the San Fernando Valley.

"It sounds like they really want to do this the right way," Mendoza said.

It is unclear exactly how many pot shops and other marijuana businesses already exist in Los Angeles. Fewer than 140 shops were expected to be allowed to avoid local prosecution under Proposition D, which voters approved four years ago, but tax records revealed that hundreds more had continued to operate.

Under the new regulations, existing shops operating in line with Proposition D will be first in line for city licenses.

The complex regulations also lay out how marijuana businesses will be vetted and inspected, set goals for local hiring, require security and video surveillance, and bar marijuana or alcohol from being consumed at shops, among a host of other rules.

And even as the city provides a helping hand to pot entrepreneurs once jailed for marijuana crimes, it is blocking people who committed other kinds of violent or serious offenses from getting marijuana licenses for years after their convictions, a sign that the pot business is still seen as especially sensitive.

 

At Wednesday's meeting, lawmakers suggested a handful of changes to the regulations, including extending how long people convicted of violent crimes are barred from getting licenses. Those ideas and other disputed proposals -- including barring cash for marijuana purchases -- remain to be debated in the future.

"It really does feel like we're building the plane in midair," Councilman Paul Krekorian said during the discussion. After Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana, "it's been kind of left to us to figure it out. And figure it out we are doing."

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