L.A. County released long-awaited draft cannabis regulations yesterday. The Board of Supervisors, which creates laws that govern all of the unincorporated areas of the county (any area that is not part of an incorporated city) has been listening to the findings of the Cannabis Advisory Group over many months and has released the zoning requirements that will apply to commercial cannabis in the county, as well as the activities that will be licensed.The County will be issuing for Adult-Use (recreational) and Medical cannabis uses. Our LA cannabis attorneys have reviewed the proposed cannabis regulations and our findings are below.
Just earlier this year, the County was considering an enforcement surge in unincorporated areas, and has changed directions toward regulating cannabis businesses. Unincorporated L.A. County has long been an area with many cannabis operators, and the question now will be whether the caps that the County is proposing are realistic. The County will be adding 3-5 new hires to form a Cannabis Commission that will review cannabis permit applications.
Under the proposed draft there will be a limited number of permits, so it will be a competitive application process. Only a maximum of 20 cannabis stores will be allowed, along with 20 delivery-only services, 10 cultivators, 10 manufacturers, and 10 testing laboratories within the first three years. The total number of permits in this proposal would not be reached until 2021. L.A. County, like City of L.A., is allowing for cannabis microbusiness operators who can have at least three activities on the same premises (including up to 10,000 sq. ft. of mature canopy).
Like City of L.A. Cannabis Regulations, the County will limit the numbers by neighborhood based on population in the neighborhood to prevent undue concentration. The population of L.A. County is 10 million residents (with about 4 million living in the City of L.A.). The move by L.A. County to develop regulations and keep apace with the City will poise the greater Los Angeles area to become the largest legal cannabis market in the world.
In addition to limiting the number of cannabis dispensaries, manufacturers, and other operators, L.A. County has introduced zoning that is more restrictive than City of L.A.’s. For example, cannabis business operators will be required to be 1,000 feet from schools, rather than 700 feet or 600 feet as in City of Los Angeles. Maps are available on the L.A. County Planning Website. Accessible from here: http://planning.lacounty.gov/cannabis/maps
For LA County Dispensaries, the zoning requirements will be:
- Heavy commercial or manufacturing zone (other cannabis businesses like volatile manufacturing only in manufacturing zones)
- 300 foot setback from alcohol store
- 600 foot setback from rehab facility, childcare facility, public library, public park
- 1000 foot setback from schools
The County is considering a Social Equity progam similar to Los Angeles’s. Additionally, they will give priority to already existing testing labs. They have not stated whether they will give priority to existing operators the way that City of LA did with EMMDs and EMMBs.
The Board of Supervisors and the Cannabis Advisory Group of Los Angeles County had estimated they would release their findings and recommendations in Late 2017 or Early 2018. They appear to be on track and moving towards cannabis permitting at a fast pace, a significant shift from early 2017. We will continue to update you on L.A. County throughout the rulemaking process.