Los Angeles will halt its latest round of social equity cannabis licensing until the process undergoes a third-party audit.
Department of Cannabis Regulation Executive Director Cat Packer announced Nov. 18 that the agency will not issue final cannabis dispensary licenses in the latest licensing round until the review is completed, according to a local NBC News report.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called for the audit last week, the news outlet reported, to investigate the application process and to determine whether the top 100 applicants are eligible for further processing.
Low-income entrepreneurs and those convicted of low-level cannabis-related crimes who plan to operate in a “dispensary-impacted area” can apply for cannabis dispensary licenses under Los Angeles’ Social Equity Program. This latest licensing round was a first-come, first-serve process for businesses to apply for up to 100 additional retail licenses. Los Angeles received 802 total applications during the 14-day application period that launched Sept. 3, NBC News reported.
Some complained last month that the latest round of licensing was flawed, saying that their applications were not fairly processed, the online application would not work due to slow internet speeds and that some applicants were given priority in the system, NBC News reported.
Last month, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson called for the suspension of the licensing process, alleging that it was “compromised” by some applicants gaining early access to the online application system.
Packer has announced plans to improve the licensing process, according to NBC News, and will take steps to hire a Social Equity Program director, release an expanded social equity analysis and develop ways to make monetary assistance available to social equity applicants.