The City Council voted Tuesday to open the application window by early September. But many social equity candidates say they can’t afford to keep waiting.
“It’s like they’re setting people up to fail — people that don’t actually know what kind of money it takes to do something like this,” said Moises Estrada, who hopes to open a shop in Downtown L.A.
Estrada said he qualifies for the social equity program due to a prior cannabis conviction. Like many hoping to enter the industry, Estrada signed a lease in early 2018 for a building that complies with the city’s strict cannabis zoning rules.
But he’s not sure he’ll be able to hold on to the property long enough to apply for a license. He said his investors have backed out, frustrated by the delays. And his landlord is considering eviction.
“I’m pretty much tapped,” Estrada said. “I’m almost ready to go bankrupt here, and so are the rest of my associates.”
The city has already given licenses to existing dispensaries. In its second phase of licensing, it licensed established cultivators, distributors and manufacturers. But it has not begun Phase 3, which will provide licenses to new businesses — with priority given to social equity applicants.
Ahead of Tuesday’s city council meeting, Department of Cannabis Regulation executive director Cat Packer said the city’s timeline could keep social equity applicants waiting until nearly the end of 2019.
“Based on the policies currently under consideration, the earliest Phase 3 could begin is November,” Packer wrote last week in a letter to city council members.