On Wednesday, the city council of Los Angeles voted to legalize recreational marijuana, making it the largest U.S. city to do so.
While the vote itself took months to get to because of lengthy debates, the implementation of the policy is actually going to be much faster, with cultivation expected to begin in less than a month.
The regulations will limit where recreational marijuana can be found, with residential areas mostly off-limits. There will also be buffer zones set up around parks, libraries, and schools.
“As lawmakers we have a responsibility to reasonably regulate this industry in a manner that is safe, inclusive, and practical,” Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. said Wednesday.
However, experts are worried that businesses might not be prepared for the influx of demand, since the new year is only a few weeks away.
Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a cannabis industry group, expressed his concern that a lackluster response from legitimate companies to the new regulation will mean “you are just giving oxygen to the black market we all want to eradicate.”
The new law is seen as a way to raise revenue for the city while also curbing the illegal trade, at least in theory. However, with marijuana still being classified as an illegal drug on the federal level, the future of this industry remains to be seen.