L.A. Might Restrict Who Can Challenge Where Weed Stores Can Open

If you haven't been following along, the L.A. City Council has been very busy writing new local regulations in anticipation of January 1, 2018, the day it becomes legal for anyone age 21 to purchase recreational marijuana in the state of California. Among the needed rules is one that distinguishes who can and who cannot challenge whether any particular pot shop should be issued the appropriate city licenses and permits needed to start hawking legal herb.

City Council President Herb Wesson, who's largely leading the effort to establish rules one-day enforced by the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation, thinks that the only people who should be allowed to appeal a dispensary's opening are "occupants, stakeholders, or property owners who reside or own property" within 500 feet of the proposed storefront's opening. As the L.A. Times reports, this is intended to mean those who live, work, or own property within 500 feet of a proposed weed shop.

The thing is, this rule would be a little unorthodox, at least in the context of other similarly regulated businesses in Los Angeles. As Councilmember Jose Huizar pointed out a Monday hearing, anyone in the city can challenge establishments like bars and liquor stores, regardless of whether or not they live within 500 feet of the proposed site.

Wesson sees it differently. As he said to the Times, "it just didn't make sense to me that somebody in San Pedro would appeal something on Crenshaw Boulevard in my district." Fair enough.

An interesting parallel to this current kerfuffle came back in 2009 when the L.A. City Council was trying to determine the minimum permissible distance for a weed store to open near so-called "sensitive use" locations like schools, parks, and libraries. Though the city council was close to approving a 500 foot minimum distance, they eventually settled on a 1,000 foot minimum.

Most of the current question, however, comes back to who has the right to challenge any given dispensary. This question is complicated by the fact that rival dispensaries could challenge a shop, as they have elsewhere in California.

Though Greater Los Angeles is widely understood to be the world's largest single largest market for marijuana sales, and the local sales could net up to $50 million in revenue for the city, there are still lots folks who aren't fancy on the idea. Doug Haines, a Hollywood resident most notable for filing the lawsuit that has successfully stalled construction on the Target-to-be at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue, said to the Times how the proposed rule are "flat-out unfair, and there's no justification for it."

Nevertheless, none of these rules have been finalized at present. Time will tell.