WHETHER YOU ARE PRO OR CON RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA USE, YOUR INPUT IS WELCOME AT THE L.A. COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CANNABIS MANAGEMENT LISTENING SESSIONS. SEE “RESOURCES” BELOW FOR SESSION LOCATIONS, TO SEND COMMENTS BY OR BEFORE AUGUST 15 AND FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Following the passage of Proposition 64, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has set up a Department of Cannabis Management for unincorporated County areas and wants the public’s input to develop cannabis regulations.
Seventeen workshop-style public sessions are currently happening in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County through August 12, where cannabis industry stakeholders and constituents in these unincorporated areas can openly discuss appropriate regulation proposals while facilitators conduct each breakout session and scribes enter feedback on a computer. Participants had about 25 minutes at each table before rotating to another table discussion.
The Topanga Public Library hosted the second LA County Cannabis Management Listening Session to discuss topics such as Youth Access and Exposure; Where Cannabis Businesses Should Be Located; Personal Cultivation for Non-Medical (aka Recreational) and Medical Use; Taxation and Revenue; Equity and Economic Development; General Concerns About Cannabis Legalization and Regulation.
At the Taxation and Revenue table there was consensus that medical use should not be taxed at all, while recreational use should be levied a reasonable tax with revenues in alignment with how the state will use cannabis tax revenue, i.e., going to research, studies and clinical trials for medicinal use of cannabis for cancer and other serious illness and disease, youth programs including drug education, prevention and treatment; and law enforcement re-education. It was also agreed that County licensing fees should be used for administration costs. All agreed that overall taxation should not be so high that it fostered illegal sales on the black market.
At the table discussing where cannabis businesses should be located, there was more disagreement and concerns. Participants expressed concerns about damage to our pristine hillsides from pesticides, materials and additives potentially harmful to soil and watershed and water usage. Most people agreed on no restrictions on the proximity of cannabis businesses to each other.
State law says cannabis businesses must be at least 600 feet from schools (K-12), day care centers and youth centers including youth clubs and video arcades. However, state law lets counties and cities change these rules.
The County Board of Supervisors has specified zoning rules for cannabis businesses as follows:
- For testing labs and retailers: Heavy commercial and industrial / manufacturing zones only.
- For cultivators, manufacturers, distributors: Industrial / Manufacturing zones only.
- All cannabis businesses will be prohibited in residential zones.
- Commercial cultivation must be indoors only. Outdoor commercial cultivation will not be allowed.
State law allows cannabis cultivation for personal medical use as follows:
- A qualified patient with a doctor’s recommendation to consume cannabis to treat a serious medical condition may grow up to six mature or 12 immature plants per patient
- A primary caregiver designated by the qualified patient may grow up to six mature or 12 immature plants per qualified patient for up to five patients.
- Counties and cities may limit or ban cultivation for personal medical use.
Los Angeles County rules regarding cultivation of cannabis for personal use are the same for recreational and medical use as follows:
Participants at this table all agreed that Topanga, with the largest wilderness State Park area within the boundaries of a major city in the nation, is unique from urban and other unincorporated communities in LA County and that each proposed cannabis grow location and geography in Topanga should be evaluated individually and taken into account before licensing.
Concerns included overloading electrical supply for indoor growers and smell for outdoor grows. However, most people preferred the idea of natural sunlight and outdoor grows using sustainable farming practices and composting organics instead of grow additives needed for indoor grows.
Much can be learned from the small sustainable farming communities in Mendocino County who are trying to stay afloat while confronted by big commercial growers. The Mendocino Heritage Act of 2016 supports small, organic, family farmers who have years of experience under their belt.
The results of all seventeen workshop listening sessions will be compiled and a report written in September 2017, and made available to the public. People may also submit comments online at cannabis.lacounty.gov/connect on or before August 15, 2017, to be included in the report.
The next LA County Cannabis Management Listening Session workshop in District 3 will be on Saturday, July 22, at King Gillette Ranch, Malibu, 9:30-11:30am.
- Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management: cannabis.lacounty.gov;
- Proposition 64 and Responsible Adult Use of Marijuana: publichealth.lacounty.gov/sapc/Prop64/Proposition64.htm
- Marijuana Edibles Fact Sheet: publichealth.lacounty.gov/sapc/MDU/DE/MarijuanaEdiblesFactSheet040416.pdf
By Dianne Porchia