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How LA’s New Weed Regulations Impact the Industry

2 minute Read

Los Angeles has notoriously been one of the most confusing cities for anyone who’s tried to navigate its murky web of legalese for growing, manufacturing, dispensing, or delivering marijuana. Still, LA is the world’s largest market for weed and the up-and-coming capital of the cannabis industry following California’s approval of Prop 64 to legalize adult use marijuana.

The city’s gravitas in the cannabis world not only offers an example to other jurisdictions with comparable demand for weed, but also functions as a buffer to stand up against the federal government’s potential crackdown on the industry.

The city’s ability to insulate itself against anti-weed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ threats only became stronger this past Tuesday when voters overwhelmingly approved ballot Measure M to regulate LA’s cannabis industry. With clear-cut rules to follow, industry folk can prove legal compliance under local law if or when the federal government targets them.

Measure M empowers the city of Los Angeles to manage its cannabis industry via fines, criminal penalties, or its authority to turn off water or power services for businesses that flout the rules. Both medical and adult use cannabis businesses, including dispensaries, delivery services, and manufacturers, will also be subject to gross-receipt taxes (a tax on gross revenues). The measure will impose a five percent tax on medical cannabis sales, a ten percent tax on adult use cannabis sales, and a one to two percent tax for companies that transport, research, or cultivate marijuana and which are not currently taxed or regulated by the city.

Moreover, Measure M repeals the city’s current cap on marijuana businesses under Proposition D, which was passed in 2013 and allows for only 135 dispensaries. Hence, hundreds of technically illegal dispensaries had cropped up since then to meet the city’s ever-growing demand for cannabis.

“Los Angeles is leading the country and the world in responsible and inclusive approaches to legalization,” said City Council President Herb (yes, Herb) Wesson. “The passing of Proposition M is a great victory for common sense, law enforcement, and all Angelenos. We gave communities a voice in the process, and their voices will continue to be heard. This measure is what responsible marijuana laws should look like, and we couldn’t be prouder of our city.” The LA Times also gave Measure M an official endorsement.

The measure passed by a vote of 77 percent in favor and 23 percent opposed. Since the measure allows the city to expand its number of dispensaries and delivery services, supporters say the measure will create jobs and bring tax revenue to LA.

“{Measure M} opens the door to legitimize growers and delivery services,” says Sun Valley-based dispensary operator Oliver Summers. “Legal dispensaries are happy it passed because we are now legal in the of the state.” Still, while the regulations are overall welcome, he says industry folk are also skeptical of entrusting too much power to the city.

Under California’s new statewide cannabis regulations, including MCRSA (Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act), businesses are required to have both state and local licenses in order to operate. Now, the clarity that Measure M affords the industry will allow them to do just that.

Since Trump has threatened “sanctuary cities” with a loss of federal funding, Measure M also provides Los Angeles with an opportunity to secure revenue, should the President follow through with what he said. It could also strengthen the cannabis industry in the face of federal interference. With a bill pending the California legislature that would disallow state agencies from aiding the feds in pot busts, Measure M is another example of how local law can be used as a buffer against Trump.

How LA’s New Weed Regulations Impact the Industry