Los Angeles is expected by many to become the world’s largest marijuana market. To handle that kind of regulator workload, one might think the city would also have the world’s largest team working for the city to manage the mountainous task. But that’s not the case. In fact, the Department of Cannabis Regulation is woefully understaffed, according to its director.
But that’s hopefully changing soon. In a vote that took place last week, the City Council of Los Angeles unanimously gave the go-ahead to add 21 new positions to the department. The new posts quintuple the size of the department’s current workforce.
Executive director and general manager of the regulatory office, Cat Packer told MyNewsLA.com, “That is a huge jump from our current capacity. As a new department, we are participating in the city’s normal budget process, but this is going to allow us to allocate resources a little bit quicker and make sure that we have the capacity we need to move forward with the next steps.”
New jobs in the department include openings for accountants, analysts, and managers. The department will also be adding a public relations team. The PR team’s mission will be to help the office distill down the state and local marijuana laws so that the public can make sense of them.
Packer, in a conversation with Leafly, said that in addition to the positions aimed at speeding the licensing process in general, she intends to hire a social equity program manager to help spur the initiative forward.
“It’s no secret that with more resources you can get more done,” Packer said.
According to Washington Times, Packer says the city had issued more than 120 temporary licenses to marijuana businesses just within a month of sales starting. Officials also believe that there are hundreds of unlicensed businesses operating illegally.
Fees from licensing applications amounted to more than $2.2 million. That number is significantly higher than the $1.3 million which was originally allocated to the regulatory office. And that figure is expected to grow to more than $3.5 million before the fiscal year ends in June.
“Originally the department was given a budget of $1.3 million, and to date we have collected over $2.2 million in licensing fees, and we have around about $800,000 in outstanding invoices, so it is likely that our revenue projections through June will be $3.5 million,” Packer told the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee in a published report.
The sale of recreational marijuana is projected to far eclipse its medical marijuana counterpart, which has been legal in California for two decades—accounting for roughly $2 billion in annual sales.