L.A. voters want to legalize marijuana, so why won’t city leaders do it?

by The Times Editorial Board

Los Angeles voters want to legalize marijuana, and they don’t seem particularly concerned that it remains illegal under federal law. In November nearly two out of three voters in the city of L.A. supported Proposition 64, a statewide initiative to let adults grow, buy and use recreational marijuana. A few months later, voters overwhelmingly backed Measure M to create a city permitting system for marijuana businesses.

City Hall has a clear mandate to legalize, regulate and tax pot.

But it’s not doing that.

Instead the regulations proposed last month would keep marijuana businesses illegal in L.A. — but then offer them “limited immunity” from criminal prosecution if they comply with city and state regulations.

Sound familiar? This hazy limited immunity rule has been in place for the last four years, ever since voters approved Proposition D in 2013 to try to cap the number of medical marijuana shops operating in L.A. The city’s attorneys recommended limited immunity because they were concerned that the city or its employees could be prosecuted for granting a permit to a marijuana business, given that the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Proposition D has been a spectacular failure. While some 135 medical pot shops have limited immunity and are “allowed” to sell their wares, there may be more than 1,000 pot shops and illegal delivery businesses in the city. The black market thrives.

Proposition 64 and Measure M are supposed to reduce the black market. In fact, that’s the main reason Proposition 64 garnered such wide support — with pot already widely available in California, it would be better for public health, for law and order and for society if marijuana were a legal, regulated and controlled product for adults.

But L.A.’s proposal would work against that goal by creating a quasi-legal system that does not encourage businesses to leave the black market. Marijuana growers, distributors or sellers would not be granted a permit, license or any sort of definitive permission to conduct business in L.A. Instead, they would get a “certificate of compliance” that may or may not be sufficient to qualify for a state license. Industry experts say no other city or state chooses to regulate marijuana businesses in this way.

The proposal would, in effect, create a new class of businesses with lesser protections than other businesses. If, for example, the corner bar is accused of violating its license by staying open too late or serving alcohol to minors, the city or licensing agency typically files an administrative complaint and must provide evidence of the violation. Limited immunity flips due process and the burden of proof on their heads. If a marijuana business is accused of breaking the rules, the city attorney can file a criminal complaint, and it’s up the pot shop to prove it was in compliance with every single regulation at all times.

You might ask, “What’s the big deal?” Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so why shouldn’t cannabis businesses be held to a higher standard than other businesses?

Because the residents of Los Angeles, in their wisdom, have decided they want legal marijuana and have voted for it — repeatedly. And there’s just not that much to be gained with the “limited immunity” charade. Yes, there’s a fundamental conflict between California and federal law, and eventually that will have to be worked out in the courts or Congress. Ideally, federal officials would start by removing marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs, like heroin, that are highly addictive and have no medical value. But the federal government has proven incapable of having a rationale conversation on drug policy.

In the meantime, though, Los Angeles might as well take a page from all the other California jurisdictions and other marijuana-legal states and offer intelligible, fair guidance to marijuana businesses and users — guidance that makes it clear what they can and can’t do, and where they can and cannot set up shop. To write the law in a too-clever-by-half way in the hope of fooling the courts into thinking that maybe we weren’t really legalizing marijuana when we effectively were is not going to help us move toward clarity or lucidity.

Of course, we have a new president, along with a new attorney general who has said marijuana is dangerous and shouldn’t be legalized. L.A. leaders’ caution is understandable, but it’s counterproductive and may be unnecessary. To address its liability concerns, the city should first try requiring marijuana businesses to hold it harmless in the event of a federal crackdown. The best way to stay out of the federal government’s cross hairs is for the city to license legitimate operators, regulate the industry and get tough on the scofflaws.

Posted in Articles, Commentary

CLG Provides Public Comments To City of Los Angeles on Draft Cannabis Regulations

CLG Comments for LA City

Posted in Commentary, Rebuttal

It’s Time To Get Loud!


Dear Task Force Members –

This Thursday, it is CRITICAL that everyone in the industry comes out and speaks with one massive voice. The Planning Department will be receiving public comment on the City of LA Proposed Land Use Regulations and we need to fight back. If we don’t pack the room and speak on the fundamental issues at hand, we may all be out of luck in the City of LA as stakeholders, operators, patients and citizens. Please see talking points below and let the City know the issues at hand. Please reach out to us by replying to this email if you plan on attending so we can coordinate our efforts. It’s best to show up to the hearing at 9:45am to fill out speaker cards.
City of Los Angeles Planning Department Hearing on Cannabis
Thursday June 29, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Los Angeles City Hall, Room 1010
200 N Spring St, Los Angeles CA 90012

Talking Points For Planning Department Hearing:

  1. We demand that the City issues licenses, not certificates of compliance with limited immunity.
    1. NO cannabis business can get a license to operate and will remain illegal.
      • Under the proposed draft regulations, City will not issue licenses for commercial cannabis businesses.
      • Instead, the City will issue “Certificates of Compliance” and give cannabis businesses limited immunity from enforcement.
      • Limited immunity does not mean lawful, or licensed.
      • The City’s proposed regulations perpetuate the failed limited immunity of Proposition D.
      • It is not clear whether the State of California will recognize a Certificate of Compliance.
        • In California, cannabis businesses are required to secure local licenses before applying for a state license.
        • Gov. Brown’s administration has already rejected limited immunity as a licensing structure.
      • All other cities and counties in California regulating cannabis are issuing licenses.


  1. The regulations go against the will of CA voters, LA voters, the Legislature and the Governor.
    • Medical and recreational cannabis use is legal in California.
    • Californians have spoken again…and again…and again:
      • Medical cannabis has been legal in California since 1996.
      • Governor Brown signed the Medical Cannabis Regulation Act in 2015.
      • 64% of California voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016.
      • 80% of LA voters approved Measure M in 2016.


  1. 800 feet between dispensaries and from sensitive uses is too restrictive and will limit the retail market. Distances should be measured from building to building, not property line to property line.
    • State law calls for 600 feet.
      • The City of LA should follow State law, and not create a more restrictive environment in the largest cannabis market in the world.
      • This will drive up illicit operators, increase public safety issues, and not allow the City to properly deal with real demand.


  1. Volatile Manufacturing (Type 7 License) must be an allowed use in the City of LA.
    • Volatile Manufacturing is recognized by the State as an allowable use.
    • It is already used in products that we use and consume every day.
      • Hydrocarbon Extraction is an U.S. FDA approved extraction method used to make common household vegetable oils, fish oils, perfumes, dessert flavorings, and more. We consume these products every day.
    • It is as safe as a backyard propane grill.
      • Certified operators work in OSHA compliant facilities, following safety standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) – all to handle petroleum gases no more dangerous than the propane found in backyard grills and apartment kitchens all across the city.
    • Best for consumers and the environment.
      • Hydrocarbon extraction is the most efficient production method by an order of magnitude, keeping product prices affordable for citizens. It produces the best tasting products, which are more resistant to microbiotic growth & molds found in other extracts. In a regulated lab, it generates no toxic waste, making it ideal for the local environment.





Posted in Events, News

When it comes to regulating marijuana, can we ever count on Los Angeles to do the right thing?

By Robin Abcarian // LA Times

I felt kind of sorry for the guy sitting next to me Monday at the “Future of Cannabis” event at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

He’s a commercial real estate broker who knows nothing about the marijuana business. But a friend of his who works in the trade suggested that now would be a good time to move into this burgeoning industry.

After all, California voters legalized recreational marijuana in November. The city of Los Angeles is projected to be the biggest marijuana market in the biggest marijuana state. People are salivating at the chance to leap into this brave new world.

All they have to do is figure out the regulations. Which are, in a word, confusing. Read more ›

Posted in Articles, News

EVENT: Recreational Marijuana Business Law in California

Michael will be speaking at this event, so register now. His presentation will cover California Marijuana Taxation Laws.



Posted in Events

Police Raids of Marijuana Businesses Continue to Worry the Pot Industry

By Alex Halperin // LA Weekly

One morning this spring about two dozen L.A. cops arrived at a large marijuana grow facility with a battering ram. Without knocking, and armed with what the business owner called “full on assault rifles, like something from a movie,” the owner said. Police proceeded to bash on the entrance.

The facility’s owner recounted the event to L.A. Weekly on condition of anonymity, for fear of attracting more law enforcement activity. The incident was also referenced at a May 19 City Council meeting by Seth Hilsabeck, a board member of the Southern California Coalition, a cannabis industry group.

The police arrived at 7:30 a.m., and only 15 of the 35 workers were on site, according to the owner. Those who were present, including an apparently very pregnant woman and a man with cancer, were handcuffed and “literally paraded up and down the street” for at least 20 minutes before they were released with a court date and misdemeanor charges that could carry fines or jail time, the owner said. One employee, a security guard, was arrested because he had a gun, according to the owner, and then released without charge.

The police confiscated equipment and 3,000 plants that would be worth about $900,000 at harvest, the owner said. The power remains out at the facility and the staff are out of work. Read more ›

Posted in Articles