LA Set to Launch Largest Legal Marijuana Market in Any US City

Los Angeles, California is the largest city to legalize recreational marijuana in the United States. Now that the city council has officially approved rules for commercial sales, the L.A. is set to launch the largest legal marijuana market of any municipality in the nation.

The debate over regulations for L.A.'s recreational marijuana industry raged for months, with opposing opinions on everything from cultivation limitations to dispensary locations. The final regulations, released this week, prohibit all marijuana businesses from operating in residential neighborhoods, near schools, libraries or parks.

Recreational sales go live in California in less than a month, but Los Angeles might not be ready. Although residents are expecting to buy marijuana on January 1, industry experts say it is not clear how many businesses will meet the requirements in time.

All businesses that intend to sell marijuana for recreational use must first obtain local permits from the city before they can apply for a state license. This process takes time, and it will be hard to accomplish in three weeks. Los Angeles is one of hundreds of cities with dispensaries hoping for license approval from the state, and it will be among the last to issue local permits.

The City Council intends to use the new rules to crack down on the proliferation of illegally operating dispensaries that allegedly operate in the city. Experts warn that if Los Angeles is unsuccessful at supplying demand through the legal market the new rules will only serve to fuel black market marijuana sales.

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