Los Angeles Cannabis and AB 2385

Los Angeles CannabisThe situation for medical marijuana collectives in the City of Los Angeles is a total tangle under Proposition D, a zoning and city registration measure meant to control and limit the number of collectives within city limits. We’ve written extensively about Proposition D (see herehere, here, here, here, here, and here), and from what we can glean, things aren’t necessarily getting better for the expansion of MMJ in the City of Angels.

Back in March of this year, California Assembly Member Reginald Sawyer-Jones, who was instrumental in securing passage of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA“), introduced AB 2385 to try and rectify MMJ in L.A. under the MCRSA.

Under the MCRSA, if your local city or county doesn’t create and issue local licenses, permits, or authorizations for operation under the MCRSA, the state of California has no obligation to license you because both a local and a state license are required to operate legally under the MCRSA. Proposition D is not a licensing measure and Los Angeles hasn’t created any local MCRSA licenses yet. In addition, Los Angeles gets its own special carve-out from normal MCRSA licensing standards (under AB 266):

Issuance of a state license or a determination of compliance with local law by the [state] shall in no way limit the ability of the City of Los Angeles to prosecute any person or entity for a violation of, or otherwise enforce, Proposition D, approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles on the May 21, 2013, ballot for the city, or the city’s zoning laws. Nor may issuance of a license or determination of compliance with local law by the [state] be deemed to establish, or be relied upon, in determining satisfaction with the immunity requirements of Proposition D or local zoning law, in court or in any other context or forum.

AB 2385 would abolish the creation of local MCRSA licensing, permitting, or authorizations in L.A. while enforcing the status quo of Proposition D.

The bill would, among other things, prohibit state agencies in charge of MMJ licensing from “requiring a local license, permit, or other authorization [in Los Angeles], and would require the issuance of a state license, if the authorities determine, as specified, that the applicant meets all of the requirements of MCRSA and specified criteria relating to Measure D, which was approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles at the May 21, 2013, general election.” In other words, though license applicants in Los Angeles would not need to show the state that they had secured a license, permit, or authorization from L.A. to operate under the MCRSA, state authorities would not issue licenses to L.A. operators unless they can show compliance with Proposition D. To demonstrate compliance, the City of Los Angeles will provide written or electronic notice to the licensing authority and without confirmation from the City, the state could not to issue a license to that operator.

Specifically, AB 2385 would require the following:

With regard to commercial cannabis activity in the City of Los Angeles, the [state] licensing authorities shall not require a local license, permit, or other authorization and shall issue a state license to engage in commercial cannabis activity only if the licensing authorities determine the applicant satisfies all of the requirements of [the MCRSA] and demonstrates that it meets all of the following criteria established by Measure D, approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles at the May 21, 2013, general election:
(i) The applicant was operating in the City of Los Angeles as a medical marijuana business by September 14, 2007, as evidenced by a business tax registration certificate issued by the City of Los Angeles on or before November 13, 2007.
(ii) The applicant registered with the City of Los Angeles city clerk by November 13, 2007, in accordance with all of the requirements of the City of Los Angeles’ Interim Control Ordinance.
(iii) The applicant obtained a City of Los Angeles business tax registration for taxation as a medical marijuana collective (class L050).
AB 2385 does state that, “if the voters of Los Angeles approve an initiative, after January 1, 2016, but prior to the time the [state] begins issuing state licenses, that authorizes the City of Los Angeles to issue local licenses to medical marijuana businesses in Los Angeles, the exemption for local licensing in Los Angeles as set forth [in the MCRSA] shall be superseded by the local licensing requirements as enacted by that initiative.” So though Los Angeles may never issue any local MCRSA licenses, permits, or authorizations, AB 2385 ensures that patients will have access to medical marijuana within the city of Los Angeles, which is important given the huge number of patients living there. However, passage of AB 2385 will also mean that only Proposition D compliant collectives will have a shot at licensure under the MCRSA, which ultimately means Los Angeles will continue on with its limited MMJ access.