Setting the Precedent The City of Angels goes recreational


Los Angeles is set to become the nation’s largest city to allow recreational cannabis sales. Studio City neighborhood-based dispensary WHTC was the first medical cannabis dispensary to receive city approval to sell recreational cannabis in Los Angeles on Jan 12. Several other businesses got the green light from the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation on the same day, but WHTC was the first business to hand in the paperwork for final approvals.

“I’ve been waiting 10 years! This industry operated under limited immunity all these years. These are the first licenses that are being issued for the first time in this industry, in the city of Los Angeles.”

The people behind WHTC hope to make the dispensary “the standard of excellence,” and having licensing priority helps.

“I was the first one to get the first temporary local licensing, which I just applied to the state with,” Yana B. from WHTC told CULTURE on the day she received city approval. The state would not issue any licenses to Los Angeles businesses until the city had sorted out its licensing program, nearly two weeks after recreational sales began in the state. It’s a license that Yana has been waiting to receive for about 10 years.

WHTC has already sold medical cannabis for around a decade, but always only with limited immunity from prosecution. “If you’re aware of Los Angeles, we have the pre-ICO Prop. D shops, which was originally at 135,” Yana said. “Now, it’s probably a little more with what they’re letting in—maybe up to 190.” Pre-ICO shops have the priority to apply for a city license. Once they get local approval, they can apply to the state.

The WHTC acronym was short for Woodland Hills Treatment Center, but the business is now located in Studio City, and due to legal reasons, they kept the old name.

California’s ultra-lenient “Wild West” days, when the rules were unclear, are finally coming to an end.  “I’ve been waiting 10 years!” Yana said. “This industry operated under limited immunity all these years. These are the first licenses that are being issued for the first time in this industry, in the city of Los Angeles.”

Yana got an email from the Department of Cannabis Regulation at about 8:30 a.m. and was at the Office of Finance within an hour to pay the licensing fee. “I actually was the first one to pay the licensing fees,” she said. “The whole Office of Finance was in the learning process as we were doing it.” Other businesses had also received city approval on the same day.

Yana estimates that there are about 150 other people who are still waiting for approval from the city of Los Angeles.

Yana went on to thank “L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson, Andrew Brisbo and Cat Packer, who is an amazingly incredible smart young lady who is making all of this possible. GLACA, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, has been the leader in this industry for the last 10 years. I’m one of the executive board members. I’m on the board with SCC as well. The Southern California Coalition (SCC) made a huge effort and a lot of work to get this industry to where we are today, as well as UCBA Trade Association.”

Retail operations aren’t the only thing WHTC is planning. Effective on Jan. 19, WHTC received a temporary manufacturing license for both adult-use and medicinal from the State of California Department of Public Health. The company is still waiting for a state adult-use retail license as of late January. As much as Yana wants to celebrate, “In reality,” she said, “The hard work is just about to begin.”

Photos of licenses on Instagram:

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