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Posted on 02/20/2024
February 2024 News Bulletin


2024 promises to be a productive year as the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) ramps up its efforts to transition cannabis licensees from Temporary Approval to the Annual License process.

In 2018, the Temporary Approval process was established to quickly and efficiently create a legal cannabis framework shortly after the laws legalizing recreational cannabis use were enacted. As the name indicates, the Temporary Approval process was designed to be temporary. Similarly, the California Department of Cannabis Control is phasing businesses out of its temporary/provisional licensing system and all local jurisdictions must follow suit. The Annual License process is a more complex and permanent procedure that includes an environmental analysis (CEQA review) for all businesses, as well as community meetings and public Cannabis Regulation Commission (CRC) hearings for retail storefront businesses.

To learn more about the Department’s plan to transition businesses seamlessly into Annual Applications, read the article in this bulletin. DCR hosted a webinar on the Annual Licensing process on February 14; to watch the video, click here. DCR will host another Annual Licensing Webinar on March 5 at 1:00 PM. To RSVP and pre-submit questions, click here. DCR encourages all licensees to attend this and future webinars to learn how they are impacted by the Annual Licensing process. 

Additionally, DCR is proud to present the Department’s first Annual Report. You can find the link here.

Finally, DCR celebrates two cultural moments: Black History Month and the Chinese New Year. For Black History Month, this year’s theme centers on the indelible artistic contributions of African Americans around the world. Chinese New Year celebrates the Year of the Dragon which symbolizes power, honor and luck. DCR recognizes and honors these two vibrant cultures that thrive in the City of Angels.

Michelle Garakian
Executive Director

Annual License Corner

Annual License Corner

In May 2023, DCR opened the Annual Licensing to transition licensees from the Temporary Approval process to Annual Licensing. DCR is following the State Department of Cannabis Control’s lead which is also transitioning away from its provisional license process to an annual license.

DCR is pleased to announce that it started issuing Notices of Complete Application (NOC) to the first applicants with complete Annual License applications. DCR anticipates that the first applications for Storefront Retail and Microbusinesses with on-site sales will be heard by the Cannabis Regulation Commission (CRC) in April or May 2024, and all other applications (non-retail) will be approved by DCR on a rolling basis beginning in February 2024.

2024 Pricess for Retail Business
2024 Pricess for Non-Retail Business

Click here for more details about the upcoming Annual Licensing process.

DCR hosted a special edition of its monthly Q&A Virtual Lunch series dedicated to the Annual License process. It was held on February 14, 2024. To watch the video and learn more, please click here.

DCR will host another Annual Licensing Webinar on March 5, 2024 at 1:00 PM. To RSVP and pre-submit questions, click here. To join the webinar, click here. DCR encourages all licensees to attend this and future webinars to learn how they are impacted by the Annual Licensing process.

Case Management Network Is on the Case

Case Management Network Is on the Case

Small retail businesses can now count on a new program as a direct result of Mayor Bass’ Executive Directive 4. The Restaurant & Small Business Express Program (RSBEP) seeks to help business owners move through the permitting and inspection processes more efficiently. It was created by a network of City departments including City Planning, Fire Department (LAFD), Bureau of Sanitation, Public Health Department, Department of Water and Power, and the Department of Building and Safety (DBS).

Here’s how the program works:

When you request assistance from the Restaurant & Small Business Express Program, a Case Manager will be assigned to each establishment to assist with the various stages including: 1) design; 2) permitting; 3) construction; and 4) completion.

The program is intended for restaurants and other small and new businesses — such as retail shops, including cannabis retail businesses, barber shops, nail salons, etc. — helping them to open on time and on budget. The program streamlines the approval process, and provides assistance to business owners, their design and construction teams by coordinating permitting and inspection processes across departments. This program comes at a perfect time for local cannabis licensees going through the local Annual Licensing process as folks will need to get their certificate of occupancy from DBS, and a fire inspection from LAFD to become operational.

For more information on the program, click here and here. For the application to participate, click here.

DCR 2023 Annual Report

DCR Releases 2023 Annual Report

DCR releases its 2023 Annual Report. The annual report details the progress DCR has made in licensing; the successes of its Social Equity Program; increased outreach efforts and strides made to streamline processes and increase customer service outcomes. Read the 2023 Annual Report here and learn more about what the Department is doing to contribute to the success of the City of Los Angeles.

DCR Spotlight - Elevate

Social Equity Business Highlight: Long Time Coming

Jesse Frierson took time off from his regular job as a social worker just so he could see every single moment of his first cannabis retail store being built.

Jesse Frierson

“I was here the whole time,” said the social equity store owner. “I took off work for three weeks to just sit here and watch the guys. It was so exciting, you know, just watching it and just learning.”

In many ways, this is all new and wondrous experience for Frierson, who is 48, but it’s also not new in some ways. He sold cannabis in his youth during prohibition. Yet, after being shot at and arrested for various infractions, he realized in his late 20’s that he needed to take life more seriously. Frierson briefly thought about opening a medical marijuana dispensary around 2007, but because that area of law was a bit gray, he said, he didn’t want to take any more risks.

It wasn’t until the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation started opening up opportunities for Social Equity Individuals to apply for retail licenses that Frierson made his move. On December 8, 2022, he was selected in a lottery for 100 spots to apply for a retail storefront license in the City of Los Angeles. One year and one day later, on December 9, 2023, Elevate, a chain of cannabis dispensaries, opened a store at 10721 Lindley Ave., Granada Hills, with Frierson as co-owner.

Elevate Photo
Elevate Photo
Elevate Photo

As a social equity partner at this Elevate location, Frierson owns 51 percent and partnered with Elevate’s CEO Kevin Krivitsky, who owns a minority interest. Frierson said that he and Krivistky have been friends since the early 2000’s, which made the transition to business partners a bit easier. Though new to retail store ownership, Frierson is eager to learn and meets weekly with Krivitsky to discuss financials, hiring, and marketing strategies. Frierson takes advantage of these weekly sessions to learn, and he trusts Krivitsky as a mentor and an expert in this field.

Frierson advises other social equity applicants to partner with someone they believe in and can learn from, while continuing to stay informed and directly involved themselves.

“A lot of people come in and they're social equity and automatically think like ‘oh, I’m going to have millions of dollars.’” said Frierson. Instead, he advises “allow the experts to tell you what they do and you will learn from them and follow behind them. Don't try to come into this [with preconceived ideas] because it's so complex. It’s nothing like the streets.”

Frierson considers himself lucky to be at this point in his life looking back at his history. He had a few key people to support him along the way, including a friend he met when he was 25 that spurred him to return to school at the age of 28.  

“She kind of saw something in me when I didn't see it in myself, the potential,” Frierson said. “My first semester [at university], I did really, really well because I read the books. I did everything the teacher asked me to do. I was raising my hand and they kept saying ‘hey are you the teacher’s pet?’ and I was like ‘hey, I just know how to get where I am going.’ I became really confident.”

Frierson graduated with an undergraduate degree in Sociology from California State University, Northridge, the first in his family to get a degree. Later, he earned a graduate degree in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University. He works for the County of Los Angeles as a social worker while he continues to pursue and build on his entrepreneurial dreams. Frierson said he has so much to live for now with two teenagers for whom he wants to set a good example, and he is lucky to have a supportive wife.

Frierson continues to be a student, he said. He is a regular at Cannabis Regulation Commission meetings, DCR’s Q&A Virtual Lunch webinar series and other DCR training sessions.

“One of the best things to come out of DCR are those Q&A sessions,” he said, adding that there is so much to learn about the cannabis license process through them, other trainings, and the information on the DCR website.

Frierson admits that he has come a long way and he will continue to do the best for his family.

“I've been through the wringer”, said Frierson, ”I've been through everything. I want to give them [my kids] the opportunity to not have to do the things I did.”

Commissioner Update

Commissioner Mario Melendez

The Cannabis Regulation Commission (CRC) welcomed its newest Commissioner, Mario Melendez, after he was confirmed by the City Council on January 24, 2024.

Appointed by Mayor Karen Bass, Commissioner Melendez is a lifelong Angeleno and a small business owner with experience navigating City processes. He has 30 years of business-ownership experience locally, and in Miami, Mexico City, and Barcelona. With Commissioner Melendez’s appointment and confirmation, the CRC now operates at full capacity. To learn more about the CRC, please visit the DCR Commission page.


DCR Wants to Spotlight You

DCR Wants to Spotlight You

DCR wants to let the public know about the grand opening of your retail store. Tell DCR about it and it’ll be shared it in our upcoming publications. Email us at

In other city news

Executive Director Michelle Garakian, far right, aids the homelessness count on January 25, 2024, along with (from left to right) Kenneth Ahn, Office Mayor Karen Bass; Ivette Serna, and Helene Rotolo, both from the Office of Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez.

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