Cannabis legalization can be confusing. To run correctly, state and local governments need to erect various infrastructure to support the nascent industry. Furthermore, people need to be informed about how and what will change when it comes to their legal cannabis rights. All this causes questions, especially in a large state like California.
That’s why Cat Parker, Executive Director of the Department of Cannabis Regulation for Los Angeles, hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). Parker previously worked at the Drug Policy Alliance. When hired, she told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s extremely important that as this industry develops in the city of Los Angeles, that it’s done with consciousness.”
Parker and her staff are aiming to do just that. In her Reddit AMA, she spoke eloquently about the challenges of shaping the industry and how her staff is reacting to those challenges. Below some of her most revealing answers appear in abbreviated form.
What Does Her Department Oversee?
Our job is to get cannabis businesses licensed and to monitor compliance with new business standards to ensure our regulations protect communities and consumers within the City of Los Angeles. With the development of an entire new cannabis program and department, I largely focus on policy and citywide coordination. LAPD is the primary agency handling enforcement against illegal activity.
How Will Los Angeles Tax Cannabis?
The State of California will impose a 15% excise tax on the purchase of Medical and Adult-Use cannabis. Cultivators will also have to pay a tax on dry flowers ($9.25 per ounce) and dry leaves ($2.75 per ounce).
The City of Los Angeles will impose the following new business taxes as of January 1, 2018: 10 percent gross receipts from Adult-Use Sales; 5 percent gross receipts from Medical Sales; 1 percent gross receipts from Transportation, Testing or Research; 2 percent gross receipts from Manufacturing, Cultivation and Other Activities.
How Is LA Promoting Representational Equity In Cannabis?
The City of Los Angeles has adopted a Social Equity Program as a part of its larger cannabis regulatory program to allow individuals and communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition and its enforcement more equitable access to the new cannabis industry.
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Within the City’s Social Equity Program, individuals who are low income, have a qualifying prior California Cannabis conviction, and those who have lived in a disproportionately impacted community may qualify for priority process and business and licensing assistance.
The City is also considering establishing a fee deferral program for qualifying social equity applicants.
Will LA Allow Cannabis Cafes In The Future?
Some members of the City Council have expressed interest in exploring the authorization of on-site consumption. Right now, we’re rolling out policy in stages to make sure that each step of the way we address the needs of businesses, customers, and government so that responsible consumers can safely get access to products at legal and well-run businesses. FYI: according to state law, consumption of any kind of cannabis in public is subject to a $100 fine — and smoking cannabis where tobacco smoking is prohibited is subject to a $250 fine.