Los Angeles will become the nation’s largest city with recreational pot after the City Council voted Wednesday to license sales next year.
After months of debate and political snags, the council approved rules to usher in commercial sales and cultivation set to begin in less than a month under an initiative approved by state voters.
Under the Los Angeles regulations, residential neighborhoods would be largely off-limits to pot businesses, and buffer zones would be set up around schools, libraries and parks.
However, with the new year just weeks away — and the holidays coming — industry experts say it’s not clear how many businesses, if any, will be ready to open their doors on Jan. 1 to hordes of anxious customers.
If demand is not satisfied in the legal market then “you are just giving oxygen to the black market we all want to eradicate,” said Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a cannabis industry group.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state for two decades.
The dense set of regulations passed Wednesday dictate where pot can be grown and sold in the new marketplace, along with how businesses will be licensed.