LOS ANGELES – The recently-formed Southern California Coalition made an impressive public showing Monday during an 8:30 a.m. meeting of the Los Angeles City Council’s Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhoods Committee, which has been leading a coordinated effort between the city and the industry to create post-Prop D cannabis regulations that unify and protect both the industry and the city.
The John Ferraro Council Chamber was a sea of Dodger-blue t-shirts touting “We Are LA,” handed out by the Coalition to members seeking to make a visually unified showing before Councilmember Herb Wesson, who chaired the meeting and read the roll-call of people there to address the Committee. By meeting’s end, the Committee had approved a recommendation to have city officials finalize an “election ordinance and resolutions to place a ballot measure before the voters at the March 7, 2017 Primary Nominating Election entitled the “Cannabis Enforcement, Taxation, and Regulation Act (CETRA).”
Not all of the industry members in attendance were there in support of the new measure, however. Members of the UCBA trade association, which has already qualified a cannabis regulation voter initiative for the March ballot (“The Los Angeles Marijuana Regulation and Safety Measure”), argued in support of their measure, which among other things would “formally legalize” 135 Prop D-compliant dispensaries.
Despite the clear, if imbalanced, fissure within the industry – with the vast majority of people there in support of the Coalition – Wesson, who is also presiding president of the city council, remained intent on seeing the city-backed initiative into existence as soon as possible. Not only does the city charter prevent it from moving the UCBA measure to the May 2017 election, giving the city more time to draft its own competing measure, but the deadline for the city to officially submit its language is Nov. 9, a mere two weeks away.
To help expedite the process, the city’s Administrative Officer and Chief legislative Analyst have already completed seven reports on issues related to cannabis regulation in the city that were submitted today to the committee. Subjects covered in the reports included environmental analysis, land use compatibility, taxes, and penalties to discourage illegal activities, among others.
At the conclusion of the public statements portion of the meeting, Wesson queried city staff on legal impediments to the city’s plan to implement comprehensive citywide regulations. Hearing none, he placed the motion to recommend before the Committee for a vote. It was approved and the meeting was adjourned.
There was a sense of jubilation as the “blue shirts” gathered on the steps of city hall to take a photo and relive the events of the morning, which were seen as momentous, maybe even historic.
“Today’s meeting was a statement from stakeholders and the city of Los Angeles that we are going to protect our livelihoods,” said Yami Bolanos, founder of The Greater Los Angeles Collective Association (GLACA). “Today is the continuation of a large movement that started a couple of months ago. We’ve been meeting with the city and we knew last week about all of the things that were going to happen today. The city is working with us, and we’re working with them. It’s a wonderful relationship.
“Times have changed,” she added. “In 2013, we were fighting the city council for our survival. Now we’re not fighting them, because they are interested in the tax revenue, but also because they realize that they have constituents who will not vote for them if they don’t allow safe access in the city. That’s why our contention that there be priority licensing for Prop D-compliant shops so there is no interruption in access to the patient is so important.”
Bolanos also spoke on the subject of UCBA, and whether the entire LA-based industry can be united. “They know their ordinance is flawed,” she said. “They thought that by mounting an effort like this, it would force the city to do something better. What they didn’t hear when I tried to explain it to them, is that we were already working with the city and this is not 2013 anymore. Instead of going against the city and putting up a flawed initiative, they should have been more patient. But now they can join us. We want them to join us. The UCBA family is my family. We’re all Prop D complaint. I’ve been fighting tooth-and-nail for Prop D [shops} all along, and they recognize that. UCBA members came up to me today and said, ‘Thank you, Yami. We know you’re working for us.'”
Virgil Grant, a main driver behind the creation of the Southern California Coalition, a founding member of GLACA, and a co-founder, with Donnie Anderson, of the California Minority Alliance, commented, “Today you saw 85 to 90 percent of the industry against maybe 1 percent. One that is inclusive, and one that is exclusive. The larger representation came out the victor, of course. It was the continuation of a process forged by the Coalition to force the city to look at the broader industry, at the fact that minority interests, cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution are not being represented. This is what the Coalition brought to the city, and they accepted it with open arms.”
The Los Angeles City Clerk has scheduled a vote for Tuesday, Nov. 1, by the full city council on the “Cannabis Enforcement, Taxation, and Regulation Act” motion passed by the Rules committee on Wednesday. Two cannabis-related items have been placed on the Nov. 1 agenda.
More information about each can be found at the following links:
WHAT: Full city council vote on cannabis regulation motion passed in Rules on Wednesday.
DATE: Tuesday, November 1, 2016
TIME: 9:30 a.m. to fill out comment cards and obtain seating. Council meeting starts at 10 a.m.
PLACE: Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N Spring Street Los Angeles CA 90012 – Third Floor Council Chambers (Room 340)