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Photos: Cannabis Industry Rallies At City Hall For Licensing, Social Equity

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A large group of cannabis industry supporters rallied at Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday afternoon in support of licenses for cannabis businesses and other changes to the city's proposed cannabis regulations. A City Council committee will be reviewing the proposed rules tonight.

In March 2017, L.A. voters passed Measure M, which authorized a licensing, taxation and regulatory structure for cannabis businesses in the city, following the November 2016 passage of Proposition 64, which effectively legalized marijuana in California. A special nighttime meeting of the City Council's Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations committee will be held on Tuesday night to review a draft ordinance that would implement the guidelines from Measure M, as well as address regulatory issues. The proposed regulations currently don't include new business licenses or permits for the cannabis industry; they would merely allow growers and sellers to receive a “certificate of compliance." This creates a legal gray area: "Marijuana businesses in L.A. would remain illegal but could operate with 'limited immunity' from criminal prosecution if they follow city and state laws," according to the L.A. Times.

City Council President Herb Wesson, meanwhile, has advocated for a plan that would allow for licensing. He has also proposed setting up a municipal bank to enable the recently legalized industry to open accounts and secure loans.

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Tuesday's rally was organized by a cannabis advocacy coalition that includes the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 (UFCW), United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA) and the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force (LACTF).

"The stakes could not be higher: Los Angeles is watching how the city is proposing to regulate the largest cannabis industry in the world. But so is the state, the country and the world," Ruben Honig of the L.A. Cannabis Task Force said on Tuesday. "For decades, a failed war on drugs has put many thousands of Americans, mostly men of color, in prison. The government's racist policies have decimated communities all over our country, and no more so than in Los Angeles."

"Of all the issues we are going to raise today in City Hall, none is more important than social equity—none is more important than righting these wrongs," Honig continued. "Communities targeted by the war on drugs must be prioritized for applications and licensing, period. Any policy that does not do this is a failure."