January 2018 is almost here--are you prepared to navigate recreational cannabis in Los Angeles? With over 1,400 dispensaries throughout the city, it's been difficult for Angelenos to know exactly which places are legal and which aren't. That's where the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA) comes in! They've created a campaign called Get L.E.G.A.L. to help cannabis enthusiasts throughout Los Angeles know for sure if the dispensary they're visiting is actually legal.
Get L.E.G.A.L. stands for Licensed, Equality, Good Neighbors, Access and Legal Voice.
You may be wondering, "How can I tell if the dispensary I visit is actually legal?" Here are a few tips we recommend for determining a dispensary's legality:
(1) Check their hours of operation. If a shop is open past 8pm, they aren't legal. Currently in the city of Los Angeles, legal cannabis dispensaries are only allowed to be open from 10am-8pm--even if they have a pre-ICO license and claim to be Prop D compliant, being open outside of these hours is a direct violation of Prop D and the shop could be raided or shut down at any time. (UPDATE: As of January 2018, licensed shops may now operate between the hours of 6am-10pm)
(2) Do they pay their taxes? All legal dispensaries in Los Angeles are required to pay taxes, so check your receipt for a section that indicates how much tax you paid on your order. If you receive a handwritten receipt that doesn't specify tax or don't receive a receipt at all, chances are the shop isn't paying their taxes which is illegal. (Here at The Higher Path we'll always give you a receipt that shows you exactly how much you paid in tax on your order--feel free to ask your Cannabis Consultant to show you the tax section if you're having trouble finding it!)
(3) Are you required to show your MMJ recommendation & photo ID every time you visit? Dispensaries in Los Angeles are required by law to verify that anyone who enters the area where cannabis and cannabis products are sold has their MMJ recommendation and photo ID on their person. It doesn't matter if you're a regular, the person at the front desk should ALWAYS ask to see your recommendation and photo ID. If they don't, they're violating Prop D and that means the dispensary isn't legal. (Obviously once dispensaries in Los Angeles go recreational in 2018 you won't be required to show a MMJ recommendation if you are purchasing as a recreational consumer, but until then you do need to have a MMJ recommendation.)
(4) Are people medicating on the premises? Don't get us wrong we love a good smoke session as much as the next person, but consuming cannabis (or alcohol) on the premises where cannabis is sold is a big no-no. So if the budtender offers you a hit from their bowl or there's a dab bar in the dispensary, you definitely want to find a new place to pick up from.
(5) Do they deliver? Cannabis delivery is currently illegal in the city of Los Angeles, period. There is no such thing as a "legal delivery service" operating in Los Angeles right now, so if you've been using delivery we recommend that you stop immediately. Otherwise, you are putting yourself at risk of the cops showing up at your door instead of your order. If time is an issue for you, look for dispensaries that offer online ordering--you can place your order online ahead of time & it will be ready for you to pick up when you get to the store. Visit http://www.thehigherpath.com/menu.html to place an online order with us!
Still not sure if the dispensary you go to is legal? We've linked to a map of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the City of LA that shows the legal status of every dispensary according to data provided by the Office of Finance and City Attorney's Office. Dispensaries that have blue dots are eligible to apply for a special 2017 Business Tax Registration Certificate, while those with purple dots held a Business Tax Registration Certificate in 2016 and those with green dots currently have criminal cases filed against them by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. You'll definitely want to avoid the dispensaries with green dots!
If you have more questions about the Get L.E.G.A.L. campaign or how to know if the dispensary you go to is legal you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the UCBA website!