The American city known as the temple of the coastal elites is about to become even more liberal.
Los Angeles, home to the sun, waves, palm trees, progressive bubbles and Hollywood, will become the nation's largest city with recreational marijuana activities after the City Council voted on Wednesday to license sales next year .
After months of debate and political problems, the council approved the rules to start commercial sales and the cultivation will begin in less than a month under an initiative approved by state voters.
According to Los Angeles regulations, residential neighborhoods would be out of reach of marijuana businesses, and buffer zones would be established around schools, libraries and parks.
However, with the new year just a few weeks away – and the holidays are coming: industry experts say it is unclear how many companies, if any, will be ready to open on January 1 at hordes of anxious customers.
If the demand is not satisfied on the market stage, then "you're just giving oxygen to the black market that we all want to eradicate," said Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a group in the cannabis industry.
California is among the 29 states where marijuana is legal, whether for medical or recreational use.
Los Angeles, home to 4 million people, has long been an unruly frontier in the marijuana industry, where hundreds of dispensaries and illegal growers proliferated.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state for two decades.
The dense set of regulations passed on Wednesday dictate where marijuana can be grown and sold in the new market, along with how companies will be licensed.
Companies wishing to participate in the market need local permits before they can apply for the state licenses necessary to operate by 2018.
"As legislators we have a responsibility to reasonably regulate this industry in a way that is safe, inclusive and practical "The president of the City Council of Los Angeles, Herb J. Wesson Jr., said on Wednesday
. The state and hundreds of cities are facing the difficult task of trying to govern the vast emerging industry with a projected value of $ 7 billion. Some places have banned all commercial marijuana activity, while others are adopting it.
Earlier this year, voters in the city backed another attempt to regulate local marijuana businesses, leading to new rules.
The legal market is seen as a way to impose order, hopefully squeezing illegal operators while collecting a cascade of new taxes for the City Council.
In the background there is a generalized uncertainty about whether the Trump administration will try to intervene in states where marijuana is legal.
Because marijuana is illegal in the eyes of the federal government, many major banks are leery of doing business with dispensaries and growers, much of the business is done in cash.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.