L.A. Approves Plan to Help Cannabis Convicts Open Pot Shops

Craig Bannister | December 7, 2017 | 10:49am EST
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Cannabis Cigarattes ("Joints")

The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously passed a plan to help people convicted of marijuana crimes open, fund, and staff rent-free pot shops – and expunge their convictions.

In a 12-0 vote Wednesday, the Council approved marijuana regulations to go into effect when recreational marijuana becomes legal on Jan. 1, 2018. The measure now goes to Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti for signing.

The plan’s “social equity” program will help ex-cons in drug-infested areas “cash in” and recover from the harmful effects of the “war on drugs,” the L.A. Times reports:

“The council also has vowed to make sure that disadvantaged communities that were hit hardest by the war on drugs can now cash in, a quest near and dear to political progressives.

“Under its “social equity” program, the city will give priority processing and other assistance to marijuana business applicants who are poor and were previously convicted of some marijuana crimes — or who have lived in areas that were heavily affected by cannabis arrests.”

In addition to priority processing of their pot-retailer licenses, the program will also require the city to provide low-income cannabis convicts with:

  • Help applying for their city licenses,
  • Help training their employees,
  • Help finding vacant city properties to rent at free or reduced rates.
  • Help expunge old convictions for marijuana crimes,
  • waive or defer fees, and
  • Startup loans at low rates.

The “social equity” program will also encourage pot store owners to hire cannabis convicts, since it requires that at least half the store’s workforce must consist of people who:

  • Are, or are related to, cannabis convicts,
  • Have low incomes, or
  • Live in the heavily affected neighborhoods.

To prevent “undue concentration,” the L.A. City Council approved caps on the number of pot-related enterprises in the city at maximums of:

  • 390 pot shops,
  • 520 marijuana manufacturers,
  • 336 pot growers, and
  • 520 microbusinesses (subject to the above limits, if they cultivate or sell pot)

Additionally, pot shops must operate in specific zones and be located at least 700 feet away from places like:

  • Schools,
  • Public parks,
  • Libraries
  • Child care centers,
  • Alcohol and drug treatment centers, and
  • Other pot retailers.

The city plans to rake in $50 million from tax revenue in its first year of legalized recreational marijuana sales.

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