FAQ: General Information for the Community

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How will the community know if a business has applied to open a cannabis business in its boundaries?

After DCR deems an annual license application complete, it will mail notice of the application to all occupants and property owners within a 500-foot radius of the proposed business premises as well as provide the same notice to the council district office and the closest neighborhood council and business improvement district. DCR will also require each applicant to offer to appear before the closest neighborhood council to answer questions about the application

What role does the community have in the licensing process for cannabis businesses in its boundaries?

As part of the application process, the applicant will be required to offer to appear before the closest neighborhood council to answer questions about their application. This is the case for all commercial cannabis businesses, which includes cultivation, manufacturing, retail, microbusinesses, distribution, and testing.

Furthermore, for all retail license applicants, DCR will hold a community meeting in the geographic area of the Area Planning Commission where their proposed retail business is to be located. At this meeting, DCR will accept oral and written testimony from the public regarding the proposed retail business.

An applicant for a City cannabis license does not have to obtain the approval of a neighborhood council or the local community as a condition of receiving a license. Nor does an applicant have to enter into a community benefits agreement or any other agreement with a neighborhood council prior to obtaining a license. However, applicants and neighborhood councils are free to engage with one another, and applicants can enter into agreements to support the community.

Who decides whether an applicant receives a cannabis license?

Licensing determinations are made by DCR and/or the Cannabis Regulation Commission (CRC). DCR makes the licensing decision for all applications for non-retail licenses in business premises less than 30,000 square feet. For all retail licenses and non-retail licenses in business premises 30,000 square feet or larger, DCR may deny the application or recommend to the CRC that it issue a license. After conducting a public hearing, the CRC may issue or deny issuance of a license pursuant to the procedure specified in LAMC Sec. 104.06.

Will the City deny an application if the community opposes it?

The City may only deny a cannabis license for one or more of nine enumerated reasons specified in LAMC Sec. 104.06, and community opposition is not among those nine reasons. The following are a summary of the nine reasons to deny licensure:

  • The Applicant's Business Premises is substantially different from the diagram of the Business Premises submitted by the Applicant
  • The Applicant denied DCR employees or agents access to the Business Premises
  • The Applicant made a material misrepresentation on the application
  • The Applicant failed timely to provide DCR with additional requested information, including documentation 
  • The Applicant was denied a license, permit or other authorization to engage in Commercial Cannabis Activity by any state or other local licensing authority due to any illegal act or omission of the Applicant
  • Issuance of a License would create a significant public safety problem as documented by a law enforcement agency
  • The Applicant's Business Premises is located in a geographical area of Undue Concentration, unless the City Council has adopted written findings that approval of the License application would serve public convenience or necessity, supported by evidence in the record
  • The Applicant failed to adhere to the requirements of this article or the Rules and Regulation
  • The Applicant engaged in unlicensed Commercial Cannabis Activity in violation of Section 104.15

You can view all the ordinances here.

If a neighborhood council or any other member of the public wants to oppose an application, they should present the City with evidence that is relevant to one of the nine reasons for denying a license. For questions about submitting evidence to the City, please inquire at cannabis@lacity.org.

What are the undue concentration rules for cannabis businesses?

The City Council has set undue concentration limits for storefront retail, volatile manufacturing and cultivation licenses in each of the City’s community plans. They are as follows:

  • Storefront retailer (Type 10): ratio of one license per 10,000 residents
  • Microbusiness (Type 12): ratio of one license per 7,500 residents ratio of 1 square foot of cultivated area
  • Manufacturer (Type 7): ratio of one license per 7,500 residents
  • Cultivation: ratio of one square foot for every 350 square feet of land zoned M1, M2, M3, MR1, and MR2 with a maximum aggregate of 100,000 square feet of cultivated area and a maximum aggregate number of 15 Licenses at a ratio of one License for every 2,500 square feet of allowable cultivated area

DCR and the Cannabis Regulation Commission may not issue a license in a community plan that has reached undue concentration for that license type unless the City Council finds that issuance of the license would serve public convenience or necessity.

What responsibilities does a new cannabis business have with their local community?

A licensee is not required by City law to engage with the local community or a neighborhood council as a condition of its license. But a licensee is required to conduct its business in a manner that does not adversely impact the quality of life of the surrounding areas. If a neighborhood council or any member of the public believes a licensee’s operation is adversely impacting the surrounding areas, they should contact the business’s Neighborhood Liaison or submit a complaint on DCR’s complaint portal.

What does a Neighborhood Liaison do?

Every licensee must designate an employee to act as a neighborhood liaison. The business must post on its premises the contact information for the liaison, who must be available 24 hours a day to receive and address complaints.

How can the community stay engaged and up to date?

  • Visit the DCR website at cannabis.lacity.org
  • Join the DCR listserv
  • Attend upcoming outreach events
  • Attend Cannabis Commission meetings
  • Connect with their local council office