LA Cannabis Regulations: What’s the emergency?

For the past few years, the 2018 deadline has been all the talk. Now the long awaited licensing deadline is fast approaching, and officials have been working as quickly as governmentally possible to finish the regulations before the clock runs out. So, what happens when time is up, but regulations and ordinances aren’t ready for their debut?

Introducing Emergency Regulations!

When Sacramento sets out on the rulemaking process, they must ensure that the public participates in the formation of new regulations. However, emergency regulations are passed under circumstances where immediate preservation of public peace, health and safety is necessary. Emergency regulations, as we like to call them, drastically speed up the standard legislative process. Because emergency regulations are intended to avoid serious harm and require immediate action, the emergency rulemaking process is substantially abbreviated compared to the regular rulemaking process. Thereafter, emergency regulations generally remain in effect for a 180-day period.

“The benefit of emergency regulations is that they allow businesses to begin or continue operation while simultaneously buying the state more time to work out the normal regulatory procedures in their new regulations.”

One major difference between the regular and emergency processes is the time allotted for the public to submit comments on the proposed regulations. While normal regulations give a window of 45 days for the public to review and comment, that period is cut to a mere five-days for emergency regulations. The benefit of emergency regulations is that they allow businesses to begin or continue operation while simultaneously buying the state more time to work out the normal regulatory procedures in its new regulations. Therefore, emergency regulations work like a governmental quick fix. Businesses don’t have to wait on the government, and the government alleviates its time crunch while the public still gets the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Emergency Regulations in California

In April, at the state level, regulations were already proposed to the public and sent through the standard public comment period. However, these proposed regulations were related to the original Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) and are now outdated.

As January 1, 2018, approaches, time is a limiting factor and Sacramento must use the emergency, rather than regular, rulemaking processes for the final round of cannabis regulations to make sure the state is ready to begin licensing, as promised, on January 1, 2018.

Although the emergency regulation system allows for temporary regulations in time for state licensing, don’t worry, we will get a chance to be heard before any regulations are set in stone. This is because, before the 180-day clock expires on emergency regulations, the state must put any regulations that it would like to make permanent through the regular 45-day review period rulemaking process.

Los Angeles’s Version of Emergency Regulations

In late-June, the city of Los Angeles released its draft proposal. Thereafter, as standard rulemaking process goes, a 60-day public comment period followed. Los Angeles based their draft cannabis requirements on the MCRSA and Prop. 64 proposed regulations. These two laws were later modified by the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) which was signed into law the same month that Los Angeles released its draft, making Los Angeles’ drafts already outdated.

As a result, the Los Angeles City Council amended its draft, and on September 7, 2017, the Department of City Planning released its recommendation for Los Angeles’ cannabis ordinance. The city declares, in bold, under the section title of urgency, that “this ordinance is required for the immediate protection of the public peace [as the] . . . proliferation of unauthorized cannabis businesses . . . poses a current and immediate threat to the public welfare.” Just as California released drafts describing proposed emergency regulations for commercial cannabis businesses ahead of January 1, Los Angeles may be following suit. Although Los Angeles has not labeled any of its proposals under the category of emergency, Los Angeles is on its own time crunch with an internal goal of November 2017, for release of its ordinance and applications. It may be a race to the finish, but the finish line is just the beginning!

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