After a long and crazy-making bout of administrative constipation, the LA Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) has finally acted to fast-track its protocol for processing cannabis license applications. The revised policies include self-mandating the period in which business license applications must be processed, along with a few other changes which seem to be an admission of gross complacency.
Applications considered dead in the water or “abandoned” after the 1st of January 2022 are also open to re-assessment now. However, this is not, in our view, helpful to those who have already faced bankruptcy and lost hope in a government department that was intended to ensure that quality Cannabis is legally sold.
What Set The Fire Under The DCR?
The sweeping revisions come on the back of public backlash at the opaque and convoluted laws surrounding cannabis licensing. In particular, they have a social flavor to them which leads one to the conclusion that appeasement of our most economically vulnerable growers has become a necessity at this late stage of proceedings.
Reports of year-long application processes were not uncommon to us until very recently, when many meaningful attempts at gaining a license simply died out, and this in our opinion strikes us as a call for a more of a spotlight to be placed on regulatory complacency.
A “Business-Friendly” Model
Even leaving aside the relatively small number of businesses who have been able to get through the regulatory gates in LA (only around 700 annual licenses have been granted), we’re somehow left with a hollow feeling of distrust that won’t be easily appeased.
The new self-imposed mandates will institute a 60-day period in which applications must be reviewed by the DCR. We would deem that a promising development, but the current environment lends itself to skepticism at this late stage. After all, a remaining 1440 businesses are stuck in the provisional-license phase. That’s two-thirds of the total contingency.
Not a very impressive statistic considering that a record $22 million in state grants has been designated for the city to solve this red tape problem. Until this ratio is solved it’s just another reason to remain healthily skeptical.
Some features of the proposed new ordinances are welcome but only insofar as they represent a return to common sense. It’s now possible to reapply inside the space of a year, if you’ve made any errors in previous applications and, as a result, had your application deemed “abandoned.”
We all know that the application process has several rigorous levels, so it’s easy for applicants to get lost in the cracks. These amendments will benefit those in the first round of phase three. But where do those who haven’t made it this far sit in the overall process?
Given previous missteps, it’s curious for us to note that vibrant communities of sellers should be spaced apart at all. With the distancing allowed between social equity operators at 700m, it seems there is still plenty of room for sweeping revisions.
A Hearty Goodbye To Cat Packer
The public outcry, which was, in large part, broached by LA Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, resulted in the voluntary resignation of the 5-year incumbent head of the DCR. This marks the end of a five-year period of extensive over-regulation. Enough damage has been caused in that period to result in deep distrust of the system and even bankruptcy in many cases. Hopefully, the situation hasn’t left enough of an ugly aftertaste to cause said businesses to give up the application process altogether.
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