Delayed Recreational Roll Out in Los Angeles, Officials Announce

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Officials at Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Management announced on Friday that local cannabis businesses would be unable to begin recreational sales on January 1, as had been anticipated by many California voters and recreational users.

Cannabis-related businesses must have local and state approval before they can be allowed to sell recreational marijuana to over-21 customers. Applications in Los Angeles will start being accepted by the city on January 3, and cannabis dispensaries that have been operating in compliance with prior regulations will receive priority consideration when filing their applications.


L.A. dispensaries that have been compliant will be subject to “limited immunity,” pending approval of their licenses. Manufacturers and growers that supply those dispensaries also will be allowed immunity, until their licenses are approved.

An additional round of local and state license applications will be required for local existing growers, manufacturers, and other pot-related businesses, but the city has not determined when those licenses will start being accepted. The licensing process for those businesses is expected to continue until April.

“We are starting a process. This is something that is not going to happen overnight,” L.A.’s Department of Cannabis Management head Cat Packer told the Los Angeles Times.

Requirements for cannabis businesses also vary by municipalities located within L.A. and Los Angeles County. The City of West Hollywood, California, recently released its own guidelines for the January 1 recreational cannabis deadline. There are four compliant dispensaries located in West Hollywood that have been approved by the city for recreational sales starting as soon as January 2; however, the dispensaries are required to obtain Temporary Use Licenses from both city and state before they can commence recreational sales.

West Hollywood also prohibits public consumption of marijuana, and allows landlords to prohibit cannabis use in properties that do not permit tobacco use.

Media reports said the waiting time for license approval was expected to be three weeks. L.A.’s City Controller issued a map that indicated 500 illegally operated locations that could be subject to criminal action. Officials told local news ABC7 that up to 200 recreational licenses could be approved in Los Angeles, in January.

Projected revenue generated by the California market have been estimated up to $5 billion annually, with the Los Angeles market expected to generate a minimum of $20 million in revenue annually for the city.

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