More of this?
More of this?
Nanette Gonzales/L.A. Weekly

L.A. County Opens the Door to Marijuana Business

In 2011 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors banned pot shops in unincorporated areas such as Marina del Rey and Willowbrook. This week the board is looking at undoing that ban — to a limited extent.

The cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills have their own prohibitions on weed retailers. But as an expected "green rush" is on the horizon with recreational weed coming to California in 2018, local governments are changing their tune on cannabis restrictions.

The city of L.A. is asking voters to approve a measure that would allow the City Council to fully legalize 135 existing medical marijuana collectives and perhaps even more pot shops, all of which could possibly go recreational next year. And yesterday the county voted unanimously to consider opening the door to a limited number of weed sellers in unincorporated areas.

The Board of Supervisors extended its ban beyond its June expiration date while also expanding it to cover recreational weed sellers and makers — for now. The extended, expanded prohibition, proposed by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, would be lifted if another proposal to license and regulate shops, proposed by supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl, is ultimately enacted. The board voted unanimously to extend the ban and to explore the license-and-regulate proposal.

"We support moving from a ban to permitting and regulating the use," Barbara Osborn, a spokeswoman for Kuehl, said via email. "That’s part of what today’s motion should get us closer to."

The Hahn-Kuehl proposals would "allow, license and appropriately regulate and enforce the cultivation, transportation, distribution, processing, manufacturing, testing, retail sale and delivery of medical and commercial (recreational) cannabis in unincorporated county areas." It also would establish a regulatory Office of Marijuana Management and allow cultivation in manufacturing and industrial areas.

The motion also proposes weed taxes that would create "net-new revenues to cover costs incurred by the county needed to regulate the industry."

Edel Vizcarra, planning and public works deputy for Barger, says the supervisor's motion was meant to work in synergy with the proposal to expand legit marijuana businesses in the county. "That was the intent," he said.

"This is a pioneering time for California and for the county,” Kuehl said in a statement. "We have an opportunity to take advantage of recent experiences in Oregon, Washington and Colorado and adopt a regulatory system that will ensure the well-being of county residents as well as contribute to the growing expertise in dealing with the legalization of cannabis."

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