A Los Angeles City Council committee Tuesday approved a series of changes to reset the city’s troubled legal marijuana market, including bolstering programs intended to help operators who suffered during the nation’s long-running war on drugs.
Los Angeles was once seen as a potential showcase for the industry, but that has never squared with the reality on the street: illegal shops continue to flourish, while licensed companies complain that just about everything costs too much and takes too long when dealing with City Hall.
Meanwhile, one of the expected pillars of the city’s legal system — programs to assist those working in the business who were arrested or imprisoned during the war on drugs, including many people of color— has been slow to take shape.
The proposed revisions were greeted with a mix of applause and confusion.
They ranged from minor moves, such as tweaking a definition to match language in state law, to potentially major ones, such as limiting delivery licenses until 2025 only to businesses that meet so-called social-equity benchmarks. Those programs are aimed at helping operators who were arrested or convicted of a marijuana-related offense and lower-income residents who live, or have lived, in neighborhoods marked by high marijuana arrest rates.
The city’s top cannabis regulator, Cat Packer, called the changes urgent. She noted the industry and the city have been buffeted by the coronavirus crisis, an economic downturn…
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