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By Julia Wick for LAist
"We're really pleased that they've created the commission. I think it will work better for the city to have this distinct commission, rather than tasking already overburdened agencies with a huge new program." - Sarah Armstrong
On Wednesday, the L.A. City Council approved the creation of a Cannabis Licensing Commission, which will oversee L.A.'s newly-legalized recreational marijuana industry.
Come January 1, 2018, recreational marijuana will be legal in California, thanks to the passage of Proposition 64 in November. Once Prop 64 goes into effect, pot shops will need to acquire both state and local permits, and local jurisdictions still need to put regulatory systems in place to issue said licenses. Measure M, which passed during the March primary election (not to be confused with the transit-related Measure M from the November election), gives L.A. the power to establish a permitting framework for overseeing the city's existing medical marijuana dispensaries as well as forthcoming recreational weed retailers.
The new Cannabis Licensing Commission will do just that here in L.A., overseeing the application, renewal and revocation of cannabis licenses, according to City News Service. The commission will also be responsible for coordinating inspections and audits of marijuana businesses with other city departments. Today's 11-0 City Council vote directs the City Attorney to draft an ordinance outlining the creation of the committee, which will then be returned to the council for a final vote before being implemented.
According to City Council files, the five-member commission will be composed of L.A. residents, two of whom will be appointed by City Council and three of whom will be selected by the mayor. At least one of the mayor's appointees must be an elected member of a neighborhood council at the time of their appointment, and no member is allowed to have worked as a registered lobbyist with the city for any cannabis-related activities in the year prior to their appointment.
"We're really pleased that they've created the commission," Sarah Armstrong, director of industry affairs for Americans for Safe Access, the largest national organization advocating for medical cannabis patient rights, told LAist. "I think it will work better for the city to have this distinct commission, rather than tasking already overburdened agencies with a huge new program."
Armstrong was one of several citizens who provided public comment during Wednesday's council meeting. According to scanned copies of the speaker cards, other individuals who showed up today to chime in on the matter included "Herman666" and "Wayne From Encino."