One of the most weed-friendly neighborhoods in LA could become even more welcoming. West Hollywood is currently making decisions about how the city wants to handle newly legalized marijuana, including recreational shops, delivery, and public consumption.
The passing of California Proposition 64 in November 2016 legalized recreational marijuana use for those over 21 beginning Jan. 1, 2018. It is predicted the cannabis industry could bring $100 million to Los Angeles alone over the first few years, providing more money for education, environmental issues, and general safety programs.
California cities have until Jan. 1 to enact their own local ordinances, otherwise, the state laws governing those matters will take precedence.
Likely, each city will have a combination of state laws and their own local ones. For example, California is proposing to restrict the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component in marijuana, contained in any single cannabis product to no more than 10 milligrams. But each city can decide much of the rest of the rules on their own.
So this puts the city of West Hollywood on a dwindling timeline to decide how they want to deal with marijuana. WeHo is known as a city with high weed consumption. The dispensaries currently located there are of a higher caliber than other places in LA – no sketchy strip mall spots here. Which makes it no surprise that the City Council has been adamant about creating marijuana rules that work best with the community.
Currently, a maximum of 4 medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed in WeHo, and all are located on Santa Monica Blvd. The key issue for the future is how the city wants to give licenses to sell recreational marijuana – and how many of those licenses they’ll give. One option is to have a random lottery system, another is to establish a merit-based system that rewards those who meet certain requirements. Currently, more Council members are in favor of a system that gives preference to local applicants who are adequately financed and are run by an experienced business person.
These licenses could result in a diverse range of pot-related businesses in WeHo, including:
- Retail shops
- Weed lounges where customers can enjoy marijuana and coffee
- A hotel shop with cannabis snacks and beauty products
- A mini-plant for making cannabis products
- Marijuana home delivery
No decisions have been made yet to determine which types of cannabis businesses will be allowed in the city. The West Hollywood City Council met again on August 15, to accept policy recommendations as they create a final draft of the laws.
In addition to making decisions about shops, a lot of infrastructure needs to be developed for business owners and customers alike.
Some local business people are working to establish a credit union to handle financial transactions for cannabis companies. Because the sale of cannabis remains illegal under federal law, it is difficult for cannabis businesses to open bank accounts, leaving them to conduct most of their business in cash.
Creating better banking options will also help with the regulation of taxes. West Hollywood could also propose a special tax on marijuana, which could be done in 2019 at the earliest.
For now, West Hollywood is looking to communities in Nevada and Colorado to observe how they’ve handled marijuana. Council members are hoping to become better educated on best practices, and ensure the right decisions are made for West Hollywood.
Like it or not, marijuana is coming to West Hollywood. Likely, this will be big win for tourism, the economy, and pot-connoisseurs throughout the city.
I am personally curious to see if cannabis will find a place in Los Angeles cuisine. Chefs are always looking for a new interesting ingredient it would be interesting to see where it would fit in the course of a meal.