By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
When Cat Packer, the city’s pot sales expert recruited from Ohio to oversee the foggy liberalization of cannabis in the Los Angeles area, stood up at the Pacific Palisades Community Council, there were unspoken questions about what she could possibly say.
After all, Chris Spitz, president emeritus, had already made the point that, with 600-foot and 700-foot forbidden zones surrounding schools and parks, there were few, if any, places where a “pot shop” could be set up in the Palisades.
And despite the weed legalization of Jan. 1, there are also restrictions on how Palisadians seeking recreational pleasures might be satisfied—not by mail, not by personal courier.
Probably not by drone, either.
And it was repeated that Rick Caruso will not be authorizing it at the Palisades Village.
But, given that in 2017 the council was still furiously debating whether a family restaurant such as Chipotle could be trusted to sell beer to adults with sticky-fingered and thirsty children in reach, the sudden arrival of legal cannabis has disturbed some Palisadians.
Yet Packer, a fluent advocate for a highly regulated industry of “adult cannabis,” to be kept away from everyone aged under 21 more fiercely than the bathroom cabinet opioids of yesterday, convinced doubters that the law may not mean the future has gone up in smoke.
She is out to protect adult consumers from adulterated product—a recent survey suggested 90 percent of retail cannabis has been exposed to toxins and little is tested for drug-level purity—and ensuring by clear labeling that people know what they are buying.
There will be a 10 mg of active ingredients limit per serving size, a 100-mg limit on a package of edibles such as cookies, she said.
The city will be enforcing a “soft cap” limit on pot shops—“Do we call it pot? Or what? It’s no longer marijuana, but cannabis,” remarked Maryam Zar, PPCC chair, keeping up with the swiftly evolving nomenclature. The cap is currently set at around one shop per 1,900 people.
And one licensed growing space for every 7,500 people.
Around 150 potential store owners have applied for city licenses, the nearest in Santa Monica.
Inspectors will enforce health and safety standards, Packer said, but other issues will have to be worked out—such as smoke drifting from a garden.
Veronica de la Cruz, city attorney, told the meeting that cannabis can now be smoked at home, if smokers own the house (landlords can ban it, like tobacco) but not in their parked car or any public space—they face a $100 fine if they do.
And police know how to spot a stoned driver, with or without special training.
But, as Lou Kamer, PPCC member at-large, said, eating pot cookies in the park—who is going to notice? At least until the consumers fall over.
Although it might boost tourism, as all three West Coast states have now legalized adult cannabis, only adults over 21 can buy home-grown in California.
“Cannabis can be harmful, but so can soda and coffee,” said Packer, executive director of the city’s Department of Cannabis Regulation.
After the meeting finished, two councilors thanked Packer at the door. Said one: “I feel a lot easier about this now. Maybe it’s not so terrible after all.”
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