Commercial Cannabis Ban Issued for L.A. County

On June 6, 2017, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban all commercial cannabis activities in the unincorporated areas of L.A. county. The ban extends to both recreational and medical cannabis. According to the ordinance, the ban only prohibits commercial cannabis activities for the next year, but it is unclear if the ban will continue beyond the specified year. There has currently been a ban on commercial cannabis in place since 2010 for unincorporated LA county, so the new ordinance is essentially extending an already-existing ban. The ordinance also marks the LA County Board of Supervisors’ first attempt to regulate cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption. Residents of unincorporated LA county may only cultivate up to six plants, which must be hidden from public view.

The chairman of the LA County Board of Supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas, says that the board enacted the ban to provide itself more time to develop a “smart, responsible regulation of marijuana.” He also noted the negative impacts that commercial alcohol businesses have had on the surrounding communities, so the board needs time to “establish guidelines and regulations for the cannabis industry to minimize anticipated negative impacts.” On the other hand, opponents of the ordinance expressed concern for medical cannabis patients. Under the ordinance, physically disabled persons who are prescribed medical cannabis to treat pain would have to travel to incorporated areas of the county to obtain medical cannabis. Unfortunately, traveling to other parts of the county might not be an option for a physically disabled patient.

But what does all of this mean for your cannabis business? For starters it means that you won’t be able to open up your business in unincorporated areas of L.A. County for the time being. Unincorporated areas of L.A. County include Altadena, Topanga Canyon, and East Los Angeles, among other areas. Over 1.5 million residents live in unincorporated L.A. county, and span over 2,600 square miles, so the ordinance affects a pretty significant chunk of the cannabis marketplace in Southern California. Business owners are advised to focus on the remaining areas of L.A. county for launching any cannabis business.

Recreational licenses will not be issued until January of 2018, but as you can see, legislators are already scrambling to get regulations in place. The LA County Board of Supervisors’ new ordinance serves as a reminder that regulations can vary at both the state and local levels. Various state and local legislators are expected to continue rolling out regulations prior to the January 1, 2018, deadline. Therefore, it is crucial that cannabis business owners stay up to date on new regulations in their jurisdiction, so that they can ensure proper compliance.

For more information about KHS’s cannabis services, contact Shahrokh Sheik.