Cannabis commission discusses ways to address Social Equity Program hiccups


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – For the first time this year, the Los Angeles Cannabis Regulation Commission addressed issues it has had with the subsidized marijuana retail licensing program, vowing to hold more community meetings on the matter.

Department of Cannabis Regulation Executive Director Cat Packer said the audit that’s currently being conducted on the third phase of the department’s Social Equity Program will be completed in mid-March at the earliest.

The SEP awards the subsidized licenses to people who were convicted of cannabis crimes when sale and possession of the substance were completely illegal, or for people who have lived in a “disproportionately affected” area for at least five years.

More than 800 applications were submitted online to the city for specific cannabis retail licenses in the program’s third and most recent phase in September, but only about 100 were available, leaving hundreds of people frustrated.

Cannabis Commission President Robert Ahn said because the third phase of the application process was halted while an audit is conducted, he wants to explore the possibility of finding support for applicants who make it through the process.

“The city required applicants to obtain real estate first, whether through a lease or purchase, and the expectation was (licensing) would happen a lot quicker,” Ahn said. “We finished the first round, and yet we are in this situation, and I think we’ve got to get these folks some relief. I think it just defies logic that we require real estate and they’re paying every month, and yet if there’s still no answer as to timing … that’s very difficult for folks to prepare for and to withstand all this time.”

Late last year, the third phase of the process was halted after it was discovered some people registered online to apply for licenses ahead of the scheduled start time, causing the fairness of the process to be questioned.

This was controversial because the process weeded out people on a first-come, first-served basis.

Packer said more community stakeholder meetings will be held in the near future, and other recommendations would be presented at a future commission meetings, once the audit wraps up. She said the department’s website now includes application amendment guidance for people who need to change their application.

Commissioners said they want an update at the next or future meetings on when it can obtain money from the state’s cannabis equity grant, which would go toward improving the SEP, and to request information from the City Attorney’s Office on assessing penalties to landlords who operate dispensaries illegally.

Ahn also said he wants to address the idea of allowing license holders to be able to relocate their cannabis dispensary, as they are currently prohibited from doing.

Details and deadlines for the SEP can be found at


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