Unincorporated areas comprise roughly 65 percent of Los Angeles County in sun-stricken Southern California. And while the term “unincorporated area” does not have a concrete definition, you can define Unincorporated L.A. County by its:
- Population of over one million people.
- Geographic area of about 2,654 square miles.
- Approximately 120-125 individual areas (think of them like towns without their own local governments, conglomerated as one).
- Singular city council system, operated by L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors.
- Mayored by one supervisor.
Here’s a map to help you better understand Unincorporated L.A. County. The parts in red are unincorporated.
But why does any of this matter? For starters, the Board of Supervisors consists of five individual members. You heard that right: over one million people and 2,654 square miles of L.A. County are locally governed by only five people. And after the voting public made marijuana legal in L.A. (and the rest of California) through Prop. 64, the Board of Supervisors made it illegal in Unincorporated L.A. County.
However, as many governments learn eventually: outright banning cannabis does NOT lead to compliance. Instead, it has led to a proliferation of illegal cannabis growth in the area, especially in the high deserts of northern Unincorporated L.A. County. As a result, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to revisit the cannabis ban last month. Here’s what you need to know about continued marijuana legalization efforts in L.A. County and beyond.
What Happened with the Vote?
All five supervisors voted YES to revisiting Unincorporated L.A. County’s ban on cannabis products. The vote was announced around the same time that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed signing marijuana laws into federal law.
Keep in mind: this is happening in California, where state law has allowed for the commercial sale and possession of cannabis for five years. In other parts of L.A. County, you can easily purchase both legal medicinal and legal recreational cannabis.
However, the Board of Supervisors claims that the cannabis ban in Unincorporated L.A. County was never meant to be permanent. They simply wanted to hold the floodgates so they could set up proper regulatory measures before recreational cannabis spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
Will Rescinding the Ban Fight Illegal Markets in Unincorporated L.A.?
Based on marijuana legalization efforts state and nationwide, we believe that it will. In Northern California’s Humboldt County, tax revenue from legal recreational cannabis bought satellite imagery technology. Local officials used this technology to find and halt illegal cannabis operations in Humboldt’s massive, off-grid geography. Officials could do the same in Unincorporated L.A.’s high desert landscapes, using tax revenue created by legal cannabis. It doesn’t get more straightforward than that!
What else will lifting the L.A. County cannabis ban do for the people, the cannabis industry, and the perpetuation of marijuana legalization nationwide?
The Will of the People
Sometimes, people just need a boost in morality. The more than one million residents of Unincorporated L.A. County thought they had achieved that boost with the passing of Prop. 64, but the Board of Supervisors took their recreational cannabis away with one fell swoop of a pen.
Now, that same Board of Supervisors has a chance to walk back the cannabis ban and do the right thing. And keep in mind: this has been a long time coming. Los Angeles residents (both incorporated and unincorporated) voted in favor of Prop. 64 by 59 percent. Incorporated L.A. gets recreational cannabis—why not the one million people of Unincorporated L.A. County?
In addition to acting on the will of the voting public, lifting the cannabis ban will also create legitimate job opportunities throughout Unincorporated L.A. County. The unemployment rate for L.A. County was 10.5 percent in June, the most recent month with available data.
A Benefit to the Cannabis Industry
In 2020, California passed the $1 billion threshold for tax revenue generated from legal recreational cannabis. This number keeps getting bigger, and allowing Unincorporated L.A. County to participate in the legal cannabis market will allow the local cannabis market to grow like never before.
Influencing Cannabis Legislation Nationwide
When it comes to marijuana laws, the United States often sets a follow-the-leader example. California was the first state to introduce medicinal cannabis laws in 1996. Over thirty states have since followed suit. In addition, after Colorado and Washington State legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, other states—including California—soon passed their own recreational cannabis legislation.
If the Board of Supervisors opens the entirety of L.A. County to the recreational cannabis market, we may soon see a slew of followers from other U.S. counties. In addition, if the proposed federal laws of marijuana decriminalization take hold, we could soon experience universal recreational cannabis laws at the federal level. We’d be the largest western nation with legal cannabis in the world.
Will L.A. County Ditch Its Cannabis Ban?
We think it is time for Unincorporated L.A. County to join the recreational cannabis trade. It would benefit not only California voters who said YES to Prop. 64, but everyone in L.A. and abroad. Lifting the cannabis ban has the potential to create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenue.
And if you’re wondering why recreational marijuana is so important to our efforts at CBD Choice, think of it this way: legal cannabis creates regulations. This, in turn, creates a safer industry where all cannabis products are tested for contaminants and authenticity. We wish to live in a world where safe cannabis is not only an option but mandatory. We don’t believe in a “buyer beware” economy. We also want to see tax revenues invested back into communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.
Furthermore, legalization brings research funding, educational programs, and further understanding to the cannabis industry at large, a market comprising both marijuana and CBD affiliates.