Social Equity Applicant Sues Los Angeles Over Licensing Process

A social equity cannabis applicant in Los Angeles filed suit against the city over its first-come-first-serve licensing process, which reportedly allowed for online bots to reserve application spots.

Full story after the jump.

A Los Angeles, California cannabis industry hopeful is suing the city over its social equity licensing program and is seeking records related to the 2019 licensing process, Spectrum News 1 reports. Carina Christmas said she submitted her application within the first three minutes of the first-come-first-serve online process but ended up being application 325 in line and, therefore, did not qualify for one of the 100 available licenses.

According to the report, an audit found that since applicants were able to access the portal ahead of its 10 a.m. launch time, some spots had been reserved by online bots.

She said that her team has spent more than $100,000 on rent and utilities for the retail storefront while awaiting an answer from the city.

Christmas is being represented by Mike Gatto, a former state Assemblyman, whose firm has been researching the application process and has been unable to get records related to the 2019 social equity licensing portal. Last week, a Los Angeles County judge ordered the city to turn over documents related to the application process, including who had access to the portal early and whether certain members of city staff were able to apply for licensing, the report says.

“These are public records, they have to provide them to us. Whenever you have a system where the public is supposed to have faith in it and you have certain favored people getting access early, you have to question what’s going on with that system.” – Gatto to Spectrum News 1

Christmas said the process tells her that “there’s either a lot of corruption going on in the city or the city doesn’t know what they’re doing.”

An audit of the program by Sjoberk Evashenk found that despite some applicants getting early access to the site, city officials took “reasonable and appropriate” steps to prevent applicants from having an unfair advantage.

The next hearing is set for June 15.

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