On the heels of Election Day, the Los Angeles City Council held a meeting to address a new cannabis regulation system, and reform the existing Proposition D, a voter approved measure that gave limited immunity to 135 medical cannabis dispensaries (known as Pre-ICO collectives), at a time when no permitting system existed for any type of cannabis business in the city of Los Angeles. This measure also created a grey area – where most LA cannabis business owners in find themselves today – that exists because of unenforceable limits that were put in place at a time when no state regulation was on the horizon.
In attendance at City Hall were two groups with opposing interests: The United Cannabis Business Alliance, an organization that represents a small subset of the 135 dispensaries who have a qualified petition initiative on the March 2017 ballot that would establish a permitting system with the city and give the Pre-ICO collectives priority registration, exemptions from state limits, and prevent new dispensaries. On the other side, the Southern California Coalition, a group of local industry organizations like the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, the California Minority Alliance, Latinos for Cannabis, the Cultivators Alliance, Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, and others whose members are primarily small business owners hoping for a chance to operate legally in the city of Los Angeles, as well as several Pre-ICO collective owners. Members of the Southern California Coalition and their supporters represented the vast majority of those in the room and were easy to identify with Dodger blue t-shirts that read “We Are LA”.
The council heard public comment on the matter first, and it was clear that the most of those present that morning were in favor of reforming Proposition D, not only by the testament presented to the council, but by the overwhelming support each speaker who asked for an inclusive cannabis industry received from the blue emblazed audience.
Recommendations from the City Attorney’s office were to place a measure on the March 2017 ballot that would create a regulatory system for cannabis businesses that align with both statewide medical regulations set to begin in January 2018, and with recreational laws that would start the same date, should Proposition 64 pass. The measure, titled “Cannabis Enforcement, Taxation, and Regulation Act (CERTA)”, would put an end to Proposition D ,and is structured for taxing cannabis business activities that at different rates (5% for medical, 10% recreational, 1% for distribution, transportation or testing, and 2% for manufacturing, processing, cultivating, or anything else not covered above), with safe cash payment remittance options.
Most notable was the urgency sensed from council president, Herb Wesson, to work quickly to draft this measure by the November 4th deadline to ensure that the CERTA would go before voters in March 2017 and compete with the UCBAs initiative. Also notable was Council President Wesson’s request for 3 large “We Are LA” T-shirts for him and his fellow councilmembers.