August 9, 2019 News Bulletin

2019-08-09 News Bulletin

August 9, 2019

From the Desk of Cat Packer
From the Desk of Executive Director Cat Packer

Cat Packer Stock Photo

As the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), I want to thank you for your interest in the City’s cannabis related policies and programs for licensed commercial cannabis businesses within the City of Los Angeles.

The Department has been extremely busy this summer! On the licensing front, we have been continuing to both administer the renewal and annual licensing process for approximately 187 Phase 1 businesses with Temporary Approval, and administer priority processing for Phase 2 businesses --- to date approximately 120 Phase 2 business have been granted Temporary Approval to operate in the City.

Furthermore, with recent amendments to the City’s cannabis ordinances and related Council instructions in April 2019, the Department moved swiftly to prepare for the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 Application Process, which opens on September 3, 2019.

Accordingly, the Department launched Social Equity Program “Pre-Vetting,” or the Social Equity Program eligibility verification application process, and began to administer technical assistance to help prospective applicants navigate the Social Equity Program eligibility verification application process. As a means to provide technical assistance, DCR facilitated four citywide workshops with more than 3,000 collective attendees; met with and hosted multiple stakeholders meetings; and held approximately 250 one-on-one clinics to guide folks through the eligibility verification application process.

During the 60-day Social Equity Program eligibility verification application process, which began on May 28, 2019 and concluded on July 29, 2019, the Department received more than 1,800 applications. To date, DCR has been able to verify more than 1,000 Social Equity Program applicants and is continuing to assist those applicants whose eligibility verification determination is still pending.

Verified Social Equity Program applicants will be eligible for priority application processing, allowing them to be among the first-to-market in the City’s developing cannabis retail market. Verified Social Equity Program applicants may also qualify for fee deferrals; technical assistance; Business, Licensing and Compliance Assistance; and other programs designed to support equitable licensing and business development.

The Department is excited about the launch of the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 Application Process, which will open in just a few short weeks on September 3. In this first round of Phase 3 licensing, 100 retail licenses will be available for verified Social Equity Program applicants who meet certain requirements on a first-come, first-served basis. You can find information about the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 Application Process here, which also includes a video and slide deck presentation from the August 6 workshop.

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge that although DCR spent much of 2018 working to transition the City’s existing medical cannabis operators, the development of the City’s Social Equity Program is a top priority. Throughout this entire process, we’ve always been actively and directly engaged with stakeholders and community-based organizations to receive feedback about the needs of those seeking to participate in the Social Equity Program --- and one thing we’ve heard over and over again is that priority application processing is not enough; folks need real programming and assistance.

As such, I’d like to express my most sincere gratitude to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Council President Herb Wesson, the members of the Los Angeles City Council Budget and Finance Committee and the members of the Los Angeles City Council, for their leadership and commitment towards funding DCR’s FY 19-20 budget request of $3 million for the Social Equity Program’s Business, Licensing and Compliance Assistance.

With these first-time resources, DCR is enthusiastically and actively developing programming to assist those applicants who need help navigating the licensing process or operating a lawful cannabis business.  

To that end, I’m extremely pleased to announce that after conducting a thorough search, I have selected Dr. Imani Brown to serve as the Social Equity Program Manager. Dr. Brown will develop and manage programming and partnerships intended to support the Social Equity Program in its mission to promote equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities, and to address the disproportionate impacts of the failed War on Drugs in those communities. Please find more information on Dr. Brown here

 Thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to move forward in the development and implementation of cannabis laws and policies that are both responsible and equitable. I encourage you to stay apprised of DCR’s operations, including upcoming programming, by signing up for our email alerts and monitoring the Cannabis Regulation Commission meetings.

Social Equity Devider
Social Equity Program

DCR Names Dr. Imani Brown as Social Equity Program Manager

Dr Imani BrownThe Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Imani Brown as the Social Equity Program Manager.

In her new role, Dr. Brown will develop and manage the Social Equity Program business and workforce development programming intended to help verified Social Equity Program Applicants own and operate lawful cannabis businesses in Los Angeles. Dr. Brown will also manage the Program’s contracts and partnerships, collect data to refine and improve the SEP, and develop SEP workshops and other educational programs to support SEP applicants.

“After conducting a thorough search to find a candidate who can expertly champion the goals of the Social Equity Program, I am confident that Dr. Brown is just that person,” said DCR Executive Director Cat Packer. “I look forward to working with her in ensuring that community members adversely affected by the failed war on drugs have equitable access to ownership and employment opportunities in our local cannabis industry,” Ms. Packer added.

A Los Angeles resident, Dr. Brown is an urban policy and planning expert whose work focuses on small business development, sustainable urban land use practices, and public policy. Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate from USC in Policy, Planning, and Development and has worked for over twenty years in the community and government relations field directing billions of dollars of economic development in Southern California. She previously served as the Executive Director of External Partnerships of Government and Civic Engagement at USC; co-founded the Vendor Relations Department for LAMTA where she negotiated multi-million dollar professional service contracts; and served as Chief Deputy of Business, Transportation and Housing for California's 37th Congressional District, where she was responsible for developing small business incubators and opportunities for communities impacted by the Alameda Corridor.

“I am excited to serve in this pivotal role at DCR to provide our community members access to economic opportunities through the development of training and technical support necessary for successful business ventures in the City’s cannabis industry,” said Dr. Brown. “I am grateful for this exciting opportunity to positively transform people's lives.”

To learn more about the Social Equity Program, please visit DCR’s Social Equity Program webpage.

Guidance Regarding Equity Share Requirements for Social Equity Applicants

DCR has posted on its website detailed guidance about equity share requirements for Social Equity Program applicants and what types of information and documents DCR will require to verify if a Social Equity Program applicant owns the minimum required equity shares in the business being licensed. DCR will be updating this document regularly as it receives input from stakeholders. Please find this document here.

In June, DCR issued a call for input from stakeholders regarding development of (1) minimum standards for the transfer of Social Equity Program applicants’ interest in a license, (2) minimum standards for management agreements with Social Equity Program applicants, and (3) options for requiring community reinvestment/social impact plans for all businesses conducting commercial cannabis activity. DCR has extended the deadline to submit these comments until August 31, 2019, and invites all interested stakeholders to submit written comments on any of these topics by email to cannabis@lacity.org.

Licensing and Activities Update
Licensing Update

Accela Maintenance

Please note, the DCR online portal -- also known as Accela -- will be down Thursday, August 22 from 6:30 p.m to 11:30 p.m. (PDT) 

Important Information Regarding Testing Laboratory Applications  

The online process for submitting licensing applications for cannabis testing labs has been temporarily disabled. Users who want to submit applications for testing labs only are invited to contact DCR at cannabis@lacity.org to set up an appointment to fill out an application in person.

Important Information Regarding Phase 1 Businesses with Temporary Approval 

The online process for submitting renewal applications for Phase 1 Existing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries has been temporarily disabled. Users who want to submit applications for renewal applications only are invited to contact DCR at cannabis@lacity.org to set up an appointment to fill out an application in person.

Important Information Regarding  SEP Eligibility Verification 

Social Equity Program verification applicants can still upload documents to their account profile. DCR will be in contact with applicants who need to submit additional documentation to complete their application. Attaching documents to an existing account profile works the same way it did during the application process; detailed instructions, including screenshots, can be found on the Social Equity Program Verification webpage.

Individuals who have questions about the status of their eligibility verification applications should do the following: 

  • Continue to check for emails received from DCRLicensing@lacity.org
    • When replying to emails from DCRLicensing@lacity.org, do not change the subject line. DCR analysts are including tracking numbers in the subject line to ensure that all questions from a particular applicant are being routed to a single analyst.
  • Check Social Equity Program eligibility verification status by logging into Accela, clicking "My Account," and scrolling down the page to Social Equity Program Status.
  • Visiting or calling DCR during normal business hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

 Phase 3 Retail Round 1 Application Process

The Department is excited about the launch of the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 Application Process, which will open in just a few short weeks on September 3. In this first round of licensing, 100 licenses will be available for retail cannabis businesses who meet criteria as established by LAMC 104.06.01 (c). You can find information about the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 Application Process here, which also includes a video and slide presentation from the August 6 workshop. 

Policy Updates and News
Policy Updates and News

Update on California State Equity Grant 

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) has re-released the application for local equity grant funding. After originally recalling the application in late March, the BCC again opened the application to qualified cities and counties seeking to secure grant funding for local equity programs originally made available by SB 1294 (Bradford, 2018). The grant application period closes on August 30, 2019. For more information, visit the BCC local equity grant page.

Federal Legislative Activity

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 was introduced into the House and the Senate (H.R. 3884 / S. 2227) by Representative Nadler (D-NY-10) and Senator Harris (D-CA). If passed, the MORE Act would create a number of cannabis policy reforms including; descheduling cannabis, expunging cannabis criminal convictions, and establishing an Opportunity Trust Fund to help implement federal equity and community reinvestment programs. 

Community Outreach Divider
Community Outreach

Phase 3 Retail Round 1 and Social Equity Program Workshop Presented August 6, 2019

Phase 3 workshop collage

Over 800 people attended the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 and Social Equity Program Workshop on August 6, 2019 at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. DCR’s new Social Equity Program Manager, Dr. Imani Brown, and other DCR staff joined Executive Director Cat Packer as she reviewed the upcoming licensing requirements. You can access the video and slide presentation here

24th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival

2019 Jazz festival 12019 Jazz Festival 2

DCR staff members participated in the 24th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival presented by Councilmember Curren Price on July 27 and 28 where they spoke with attendees about the Department, its mission, responsible cannabis use, and commercial cannabis activity in the City of Los Angeles. Held in the City’s historic jazz music core in Council District 9, attendees were treated to two days of music, food, entertainment, and informational booths hosted by City Departments like DCR and local non-profit organizations.

2019 Congress of Neighborhoods To Be Held September 28, 2019

Neighborhood Councils Graphic

DCR will once again participate in the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment’s Congress of Neighborhood event. Held at City Hall on Saturday, September 28, DCR representatives will be available to answer questions about cannabis laws, regulations and the commercial licensing process. This annual event serves as a day of education and networking for neighborhood council leaders. For more information, please visit nccongressla.com.

Cannabis Regulation Commission
Cannabis Regulation Commission

The Cannabis Regulation Commission holds public hearings related to the issuance of Licenses to engage in commercial cannabis activity. In addition, the Commission may recommend to the City Council amendments to the City's Rules and Regulations. To learn more, please visit the Commission webpage.

There will be a special Cannabis Regulation Commission meeting held on August 22, 2019. The Commission will hear a report from DCR providing an overview and update of the Phase 3 Retail Round 1 Application Process and the Social Equity Program, which will mirror the previous presentation provided at the August 6, 2019 workshop at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, available here.

The More You Know Divider
The More You Know

Statewide Education Campaign Urges Consumers to Shop Licensed Retailers

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control launched a statewide public information program intended to encourage consumers to purchase cannabis and cannabis products from licensed businesses.

The goal of the “Get #weedwise” campaign isto educate consumers about the risks associated with cannabis purchased from unlicensed businesses. The campaign also educates unlicensed businesses about the need to get licensed and the consequences of continuing to operate without a license. Currently, all commercial cannabis businesses in California must have a license from the state and comply with local rules related to commercial cannabis activity in their local jurisdiction. 

The multilingual campaign warns consumers about dangerous, foreign material – including chemicals, mold, and fecal matter – that can be found in illegal, untested cannabis. The campaign will also include alerts to illegal businesses informing them that they could face confiscation of cash or cannabis by engaging in unlicensed activity. Please click here for more information.

Weedwise launch

DCR Information Now Available in Over 100 Languages

All of the details included in this bulletin, as well as every page on the DCR website, are now available in over 100 different languages through the Google Translate feature found at the top right corner of the DCR website. Just click on the word “Translate” and choose your language.

Google Translate Screenshot

DCR also provides English-to-Spanish translators and Spanish-speaking staff at our various workshops and one-on-one clinics. 

We have translated our first brochure, Guide to Adult-Use Cannabis a Sales Consumption Within the City of Los Angeles into Spanish! It is available to print here.

Spanish Trifold thumbnail

Helpful Resources & Information
Helpful Resources & Information

The City of Los Angeles has established Rules and Regulations regarding licensed cannabis retailers. For example, did you know that the following activities are prohibited at the business premises of a legal cannabis business?

  • The sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products
  • The consumption of cannabis and alcohol
  • The issuance of physician recommendations or approvals
  • The giving away of free samples

Know what to expect when patronizing a licensed retailer by familiarizing yourself with this information from the DCR website.

For information on What’s Legal and What’s Not, as well as health and prevention resources in your area, check out our Resources webpage.

Cannabis trifold double-side thumb

Please remember that although California legalized cannabis in 2018 -- not every cannabis activity is lawful; and even when following the law, it's just as important to practice responsible behavior. For more information about what’s legal and how to stay responsible, please check out these videos, courtesy of our friends at LACityview35.

Cat Packer PSA Video

  LA This Week
Credit: LACityview35   DCR Featured in LA This Week

Authorized Cannabis Retailers are required to comply with State and Local standards that require that cannabis products be tested for harmful pesticides and toxins. Find your nearest authorized commercial cannabis retailer with the click of a button on our interactive map at cannabis.lacity.org/legal-businesses.

 


-To lodge a complaint about any cannabis activity in the City of Los Angeles - licensed or unlicensed, please use DCR’s complaint portal.

-To get the latest information from the Department of Cannabis Regulation,
Sign Up for Email Alerts.