– Los Angeles is in line to become the United State’s largest city with legal recreational marijuana after the City Council voted Wednesday, December 6 to license sales and cultivation next year, The Hollywood Reporter said.
The landmark vote came after a hearing in which council members characterized the rules as a work in progress, almost certain to see revisions next year after California launches its recreational pot industry in January.
Under the Los Angeles regulations, residential neighborhoods would be largely off-limits to pot businesses, and buffer zones would be set up around schools, libraries and parks.
City Council President Herb Wesson’s office said the rules would take effect immediately after the signature of Mayor Eric Garcetti, which is expected.
“The other cities in this nation, they are looking to L.A.,” said Wesson, predicting the city model would become a template for legalization elsewhere.
However, with the new year just weeks away — and the holidays coming — industry experts say it’s not clear how many businesses, if any, will be ready to open their doors on Jan. 1.
If demand is not satisfied by legal sales, then “you are just giving oxygen to the black market we all want to eradicate,” said Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a cannabis industry group.
The route to legalization began last year when voters approved Proposition 64, which opened the way for recreational pot sales to adults in the nation’s most populous state, home to one in eight Americans.
The state and hundreds of cities have been saddled with the challenging task of trying to govern a vast, emerging industry with a projected value of $7 billion.
The result has been a patchwork.
Some cities have banned all commercial pot activity, while L.A. is among those that have embraced it, in part for the promise of a cascade of new tax dollars.