Pubdate: Tue, 02 Jan 2018
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2018 Los Angeles Times
Author: Kate Mather


As Los Angeles moves toward allowing the sale of recreational
marijuana, joining cities across the state in the newly legal
enterprise, police here offered a stern word of caution.

Yes, recreational pot will be legal to sell (and buy, and consume, and
cultivate). But there are limits. And the Los Angeles Police
Department will help enforce them.

"Let me be clear," Assistant Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday. "The use
of marijuana needs to be done in a responsible manner that's
consistent with the law."

What isn't allowed? Driving under the influence of marijuana.
Consuming pot in public. Purchasing or consuming recreational cannabis
by someone under the age of 21.

"Those are all illegal actions," Moore said. "And the department will
take aggressive action in enforcing the law."

Moore's comments came a day after the sale of recreational marijuana
became legal in California, a voter-approved endeavor that has
presented challenges for police and city leaders across the state as
they decide how to handle the hotly anticipated retail sector.

Most cities in California have yet to sign off on the commercial sale
of cannabis. Others that have -- including L.A. -- scrambled to get
policies and procedures in place before the January deadline.

Los Angeles, the state's biggest city, decided it would permit the
sale of recreational pot, but it has yet to start approving marijuana
businesses for those transactions after the City Council backed a set
of complicated new regulations in December.

Recreational marijuana becomes legal in California on Jan. 1. The
first round of state licenses for marijuana businesses kick into
effect in January. Here's a guide to everything you need to know.

Recreational marijuana becomes legal in California on Jan. 1. The
first round of state licenses for marijuana businesses kick into
effect in January. Here's a guide to everything you need to know.

As long lines of customers snaked outside pot shops from Sacramento to
San Diego on Monday, and again Tuesday in West Hollywood, L.A.'s
dispensaries had to wait.

"We are going to do this the Los Angeles way," said Cat Packer, the
head of the city's Department of Cannabis Regulation. "That means that
we're going to have to do this responsibly. And if that means that we
start this process a few days late, I'm perfectly fine with that."

Existing L.A. medical marijuana dispensaries that have been following
city rules should be able to start applying Wednesday and are expected
to get some form of temporary approval from the city quickly -- some
could have them by Monday, Packer said.

Under city regulations, they are supposed to be protected from local
prosecution while they seek licenses.

But the lack of local authorization has left some medical marijuana
dispensaries nervous about whether they could be at risk before that
approval is granted. And it is unclear when the city will start
approving other kinds of pot businesses, including existing marijuana
growers and manufacturers that supply dispensaries.

Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Cannabis Control,
said Tuesday that the agency is prepared to take enforcement action
against shops that are not properly licensed. The bureau, he said, was
ready to investigate complaints and conduct compliance checks "at any

Moore said the LAPD's approach to medical marijuana shops would not
necessarily change, even if shops do not yet have the local approval
required under the new rules.

Otherwise law-abiding shops could continue to sell medical marijuana,
Moore said. If the state's cannabis bureau were to ask the LAPD to
take enforcement action against them, he said, the department would
decide if it was an "appropriate use of our resources" given the

Both Moore and Packer acknowledged the adjustment period ahead, as
residents, businesses and police become accustomed to the new rules.
Some elements of those laws are nuanced, Moore said.

For example, people can grow marijuana, but no more than six plants at
a time, and only in locked spaces out of public view. And drivers can
have marijuana in their vehicles, but must keep it in a container in
the trunk.

The LAPD is working to educate officers through written bulletins and
during roll-call meetings. The department is also working with the
county's Health Department and other agencies to determine the
"intended and unintended consequences" the legal use of recreational
marijuana might have on public safety, Moore said.

"This is a new day for us as well," he said.

It was also a new day in West Hollywood on Tuesday, the first day
recreational pot could legally be sold in the city. Outside the MedMen
store on Santa Monica Boulevard, the mood was celebratory and the line
was long.

Wearing shirts that read "It's legal," MedMen employees checked IDs at
the door and stamped red marijuana plants onto customers' hands.
Guards kept the shop from getting too crowded, letting in only five
customers at a time. Customers took selfies as they waited their turn.

"I'm overwhelmed by the products," said Becky Filer as she looked over
weed-infused lip balm, honey and teas. Filer, a New York resident,
happened to be on vacation in California when recreational sales
became legal.

It was "perfect timing," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt