Los Angeles is known as one of the most influential U.S. cities when it comes to medical cannabis, but local business owners are operating in a legal grey area.
Safe access for patients, the free-market economy, and legitimacy for operators are just a few of the issues LA cannabis entrepreneurs are grappling with under current law.
“There are many industries where wealth is held in the hands of few,” said Ruben Honig, a medical marijuana patient, small business owner and activist. “The [Los Angeles] cannabis industry has the size and ability to help small and medium sized businesses as well as people of color and women,” but newly enforced regulations could cause hundreds of enterprises to close their doors or face criminal prosecution.
This could in turn open up the Los Angeles cannabis scene for conglomerates to move in and take over resulting in price increases and less options for patients.
These looming shut downs are the result of Proposition-D, which in 2013, was enacted by voters in the the City of Los Angeles restricting L.A. marijuana dispensaries to 135 businesses which have already been pre-determined.
Other state-legal dispensaries and delivery services could be forced to shut down.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force was formed with the goal to educate and activate the public on this and similiar issues as well as to protect consumers and assist local leaders with the process of expansion in the legal marijuana industry.
“It's an amazing chance for the industry to come together and get to know each other,” said Honig, who began using cannabis to treat his chronic Crohn's disease. Honig said he joined the task force to raise awareness about the hurdles cannabis business owners are facing.
On May 21 in Downtown Los Angeles, the group along with other leaders in the Los Angeles cannabis industry held an elevateLA Prop-WE fundraiser featuring a DJ, silent auction, food trucks, and medicated candy and treats to raise awareness on how Prop-D could affect local businesses.
“In connecting like-minded individuals focused on business growth and personal development we are elevating the industry for the future,” the organization's mission outlines.
“In a rather faceless industry, it's important that we all come out of the shadows, not just for a good cause, but to build community and relationships,” Honig explained. "We must enact real reform that is not only in line with state law, but actually works economically and politically for the City of Los Angeles."
Click here for more information on how to get involved in the Los Angeles Medical Cannabis Task Force.