Got a thought on pot? LA County is hosting public workshops this summer

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Californians will have a new way to nurse their New Year’s Day aches come January 1, when cannabis use, possession and cultivation will officially become legal in the state.

However, a lot has to happen before marijuana businesses can safely and securely open their doors. Counties and cities across the state are scrambling to determine the best possible regulations in time for the roll-out, hoping to avoid the regulatory chaos that followed legalization in neighboring Nevada.

L.A. County plans to prepare by hosting a series of 18 workshops during July and August that will allow the public to ask questions and give their two cents as regulations are crafted. The resulting regulations will only affect people living in unincorporated cities in the county — if you're officially a resident of one of the county's 88 cities, these regulations will not apply to you.

The above map shows the dates, times and locations of each of the remaining 17 public listening sessions hosted by the L.A. County Office of Cannabis Management. The first meeting took place on July 13. 

The goal of the workshops is to get a sense of community concerns and desires so the county can shape optimally fitting regulations, the Office of Cannabis Management’s Joseph Nicchitta told KPCC.

For those who are shy but have something to say, have no fear:

“This is not your traditional town hall, you won’t have to get up and speak in front of a crowd. These are table-top sessions,” Nicchitta said.

The tables will be organized in small groups according to topics such as youth exposure and equity and economic development, with room to raise questions that fall outside of the designated categories. Responses will remain anonymous and will be turned into a public report intended to inform the county’s Board of Supervisors on the community’s opinion.

Nicchitta expects a wide variety of opinions to be voiced, and he hopes the sessions can also act as a way to help educate the public about their process.

“Even within communities there are people that disagree with each other on how cannabis regulation should roll out,” Nicchitta said. “There’s a lot of apprehension out there.”

L.A. County is sharing ideas with the City of Los Angeles and other counties around the state, and is keeping an eye on roll-outs in states like Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Colorado that have paved the way.

“I think anyone who is looking to regulate cannabis, we are all in this together. It’s a new frontier,” Nicchitta said. “The state’s very plugged in and looking at other jurisdictions to make sure what they do will work for California.”

January 1 is right around the corner. As for whether L.A. County will be ready, Nicchitta says, “I hope so.”

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