Budding Business: Worker at Venice Beach Care Center medical pot dispensary

Budding Business: Worker at Venice Beach Care Center medical pot dispensary Photo by Ringo Chiu.

The Los Angeles City Council passed three ordinances Wednesday that will regulate the licensing and operation of cannabis businesses, effective immediately pending the Mayor’s signature.

The ordinances were passed less than a month before recreational marijuana sales become legal Jan. 2 under state law, which voters passed by ballot initiative in November 2016. The California law requires that cannabis businesses have both a state and local license in order to operate legally.

L.A. voters passed a local initiative, Measure M, in March Nearly with 80.5 percent of the vote, but it took 9 months for city council members to work out a regulatory structure.

“As lawmakers we have a responsibility to reasonably regulate this industry in a manner that is safe, inclusive, and practical,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson, Jr. “Today’s ordinances are the culmination of a transparent and public process.”

The ordinances give priority licensing to medical marijuana dispensaries that were compliant with regulations established under Proposition D, in addition to establishing provisions for a formal licensing process. The city will also make efforts to redress crackdowns on marijuana in the past with so-called social justice initiatives, which include job training for low-income citizens who have cannabis-related convictions or live in a neighborhood where a disproportionate number of marijuana arrests occurred.

“I am very proud of the proactive approach we’ve taken to center social justice and create opportunities for individuals who have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs,” said Wesson.

The ordinances also establish a 700-foot buffer zone between any consumer-facing business selling cannabis or cannabis byproducts and schools, libraries, parks, daycare facilities and community-serving establishments. Non-retail and cannabis delivery businesses must have a 600-foot buffer.