County creates informational website about marijuana regulations

Customers buy products at the Harvest Medical Marijuana Dispensary in San Francisco in April 2016. Associated Press
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With retail sales of cannabis to begin Jan. 1, Los Angeles County created an informational website to notify county residents of what is and is not allowed in their communities.

The website, found at, includes information from the Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management about proposed policies for unincorporated areas, frequently asked questions, public listening sessions, advisory group recommendations, resources for parents and teens, and rules for consumers, personal cultivation and cannabis businesses.

“Under the new state laws, sales of adult-use cannabis to people under the age of 21 are never permitted, and cannabis can only be purchased legally from licensed retail outlets,” the county said in a statement.  “It will remain illegal to smoke cannabis in public or to drive under the influence.”

Although some local cities opted to permit commercial cannabis operations, the city of Santa Clarita voted in November 2017 to extend its moratorium to prevent cannabis businesses from opening next year.  The city is expected to implement an ordinance to permanently ban them next year.

“There’s different rules in every city and every unincorporated area,” Tony Bell, Communications Deputy for Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.  “It is a challenge with a lot of moving parts to figure out the best way to regulate this industry.”

As the county website states, pot businesses and activities are also prohibited in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County following an ordinance passed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in June.

This ban on cannabis businesses includes cultivating, manufacturing, processing, storing testing, labeling, distributing or selling medical or non-medical cannabis.

The website also includes the proposed policies for cannabis—like a cannabis commission, a strategic permitting phase-in, zoning and buffering from sensitive use—in unincorporated areas that was released by the Office of Cannabis Management earlier this month.

These policies aim to “prioritize the protection of public safety and health as well as the quality of life in our communities” and are tentatively scheduled for consideration by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in January, according to the county.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also adopted a health and sanitation ordinance for cannabis businesses Dec. 19 that establishes clear health and safety standards for those preparing and selling cannabis products.

This ordinance also requires businesses to “abide by operational standards to avoid adversely affecting neighbors.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is also working with cities that permit commercial cannabis operations to implement the new ordinance, and is working to develop an outreach program that informs youth and parents about the risks of cannabis use.

In addition, the Office of Cannabis Management is currently developing a universal emblem program for cannabis retailers that will include a distinctive emblem, like a restaurant grade, that will let consumers know whether a cannabis business is licensed.

Advice for cannabis consumers from the Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management:

  • If you consume cannabis, then please consume responsibly. Using common sense and educating yourself about what is legal and what is not goes a long way.
  • Do not drive under the influence of cannabis. This is illegal and dangerous.
  • Store your cannabis in a child-resistant packaging and in places not accessible to kids. The inadvertent consumption of cannabis edibles by children is potentially very dangerous
  • If you consume edible cannabis, “start low and go slow.” It can take up to two hours to feel the effects of edible cannabis
  • Be respectful of others by not consuming cannabis in public or in such a way that smoke is likely to bother people in adjacent residences.
  • Do not consume cannabis in public. This is illegal, except in limited instances where a person has a valid doctor’s recommendation to consume medical cannabis.

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