On Dec. 6, the Los Angeles City Council voted to allow the sale, cultivation and use of recreational marijuana within city limits. The move makes L.A., which has a population of 4 million people, the largest U.S. city to approve such measures. The new rules are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
The approved regulations stipulate where marijuana can be grown and sold. For example, shops would not be allowed in most residential neighborhoods, and marijuana sales would not be allowed within a certain distance of schools, libraries and parks. The council also outlined the way new pot businesses will be licensed. According to the rules, prospective businesses must acquire local permits before applying for a state license.
California legalized medical marijuana over 20 years ago. Since then, L.A. has become home to hundreds of illegal dispensaries and cultivators. The new rules are an attempt to regulate the business and drive out illegal operations. However, because 2018 is only weeks away, there is little time for legitimate businesses to set up shop by the beginning of the year. As a result, some marijuana advocates fear that black market sellers will continue to thrive in the city for months to come. There is also concern that many major banks will shy away from funding new marijuana businesses because the federal government still considers the drug illegal.
California's marijuana laws are varied and complex. Therefore, it is still possible for sellers, cultivators and users to be hit with various drug charges depending on their location and circumstances. Individuals facing marijuana charges may find it helpful to consult with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to review the details of the case and work to obtain the best possible outcome for the defendant.