West Hollywood Extends Recreational Cannabis Licenses

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'Original' dispensaries advocates at West Hollywood City Council meeting (Photos: mgretailer)

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The West Hollywood City Council responded to energized local dispensary advocates by voting to allow indefinite extensions on temporary recreational sales licenses for the city’s original four cannabis dispensaries.

Alternative Herbal Health Services (AHHS), Los Angeles Patients and Caregivers Group (LAPCG), MedMen, and Zen Healing Collective are the West Hollywood dispensary facility OGs. Advocates for the businesses packed the meeting room, on an evening with an already busy agenda.

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“We believe that all operators can co-exist,” MedMen Vice President of Corporate Communications Allison McLarty told mgRetailer. “The Originals want to stay in operation to continue serving our loyal customers and offering good jobs in the community.”

Dispensary advocates stood out in the audience by donning bright red MedMen varsity jackets or white “Originals” T-shirts with rainbow marijuana leaves. After a long line of commenters and some debate, the council voted for the extensions 4-1, with Councilman John Duran as the only “no” vote.

Duran is in favor of granting permanent recreational sales licenses to the first four dispensary locations and said consumers and residents should be allowed to determine which businesses are allowed to operate consumption facilities in a free market, without excluding the earlier dispensaries.

California’s legalization of medical marijuana and West Hollywood’s progressive policies allowed medical dispensaries, like AHHS, to establish as early as the late ‘90s. But when voters approved Proposition 64 allowing recreational marijuana use in 2018, complicated regulation processes and conflicts came into play with regulations being developed for new businesses, seemingly on the fly.

Eight permanent recreational licenses were issued in December 2018 to businesses planning consumption lounges in West Hollywood. None of the permanent licensees were granted to existing dispensaries, which continued to operate under temporary recreational sales licenses that were extended on Monday.

The application evaluation process, according to WeHoVille.com, involved a five-person committee that was tasked with rating applicants on fifty-four criteria in a months-long process. Categories that were assessed included Business Operations, Social Equity, Local Business Partnerships, Employee Safety Education, cannabis industry experience and knowledge, WeHo Core Values, and several others, which also included sub-categories for specific aspects of business and community standards.

Applicants that scored highest were awarded permanent licenses. Those that qualified include several local and corporate business entities that have plans for lounge locations including The Antidote, The Artist Tree, Door Number Six, Essence, Calma WeHo, Greenwolf West Hollywood, Flore West Hollywood, and PleasureMed.

Dispensaries advocates argued that if their sales are limited to medical marijuana products and recreational sales allowed only in consumption lounges, the move would put local dispensaries out of business. There is reportedly between three to nine months before the first lounge is expected to open.

“We are always in dialogue with the city and will continue to be. We won’t speculate on future actions at this time,” McLarty added.

The city council meeting immediately followed Los Angeles Pride, which is held annually in West Hollywood; feedback on the event drew several public comments. Ironically, an agenda item regarding smoking policies in multi-tenant units was tabled early in the proceedings, though there was a crowd of attendees interested in the issue of secondhand smoke.

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