In preparation for legalized recreational marijuana in 2018, the Los Angeles City Council Thursday released a draft ordinance on how to regulate and track the industry, which is expected to raise tens of millions in local tax revenue dollars.

The draft ordinance implements the guidelines contained in Measure M, which was approved by city voters in March and outlines a process to regulate and tax the industry, and also contains other regulatory framework.

In November, California voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, effective Jan. 1.

The city’s draft ordinance now enters a 60-day public comment period.

“We will continue to have a robust dialogue about the regulatory framework and a healthy debate of Los Angeles’ growing cannabis industry prior to final recommendations being considered by the City Council,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson. “I’m calling on all residents and stakeholders to provide comments and feedback on the draft documents to ensure the pending regulations are inclusive of all communities.”

The draft ordinance raised no immediate objections from the Southern California Coalition, a trade organization for the marijuana industry.

“The release of the city’s draft regulations is a positive step towards fully licensing and regulating the cannabis industry in Los Angeles, so that our businesses have a shot at getting local authority, remain eligible to apply for state licensing, and are not left out of the state process, which is expected to start in January 2018,” said Virgil Grant, the SCC’s president and co-founder.

“We will be reviewing the city’s draft regulations in greater detail and responding in the near future with our policy recommendations, along with any other concerns in an effort to strengthen the draft regulations in a constructive way,” he said.

Once implemented, the ordinance will replace Proposition D, which was approved in 2013 by city voters and limited the number of dispensaries within Los Angeles city limits to 135 — the number of dispensaries operating before Sept. 14, 2007.

Despite the limit, pot shops continued to open or stay open in the city in disregard for the law. A map released Wednesday by City Controller Ron Galperin shows more than 1,400 are currently in operation. The city attorney’s office has filed criminal charges against 563 of them.

“No one neighborhood should bear the brunt of the cannabis business. In adopting new cannabis regulations, we can avoid the mistakes of Prop D, which created an environment where illegal shops could run rampant,” said Councilwoman Nury Martinez. “These rules to implement voter-approved Measure M will help us make sure that there is no concentration of pot shops in just a handful of communities.”

–City News Service

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