March 19, 2020


Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles City Hall

200 North Spring Street, 3rd Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Re: Designation of Cannabis Business as “Essential”


Dear Mayor Garcetti,


Since 1970, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (“NORML”) has worked on behalf of cannabis consumers to decriminalize cannabis and support sensible cannabis law and policy reform. As NORML’s Los Angeles chapter (“LA NORML”), we are proud to represent cannabis consumers and we thank you for your leadership during this difficult time. As many municipalities throughout the state issue “shelter in place” orders, should the City of Los Angeles take this step, we strongly urge you to designate cannabis facilities as “essential” to the community.


The state of California has long recognized the medical value of cannabis as it is truly an essential medicine for many Los Angeles residents. These members of our community rely on the legal supply chain to provide access to safe, lab-tested cannabis. With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, classifying cannabis businesses as “essential” would be of tremendous value—especially to those elderly and heath-compromised individuals most at risk from the virus, and that depend on cannabis retail home delivery services. Elderly and health-compromised individuals should be able to continue to engage in social distancing without compromising their health. For those facilities that continue to maintain operations for on-site retail sales, LA NORML encourages them to engage in recommended best practices in order to keep both their employees and their customers safe.


LA NORML also seeks to avoid a scenario where cannabis consumers will be forced to look to the illegal market for treatment options. The nascent legal cannabis industry is fragile, and due to the metropolitan characteristics of Los Angeles it is especially unrealistic for LA residents to rely on home cultivations. Legal cannabis dispensaries, and those in the licensed supply chain keeping the shelves stocked, are tantamount to pharmacies—and we ask that the City acknowledge them as such in the event of a “shelter in place” order.


We thank you for your continued work to keep our City safe, and we welcome any opportunity to assist. Please do not hesitate to contact Philip Rebentisch at 310.614.0155 with any questions.




Ian Rassman

Deputy Director, LA NORML