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Los Angeles County Issues Its First Recreational Marijuana Licenses, Latina Woman Among Licensees

Lynwood is the first city in Los Angeles County to issue licenses to grow, produce and distribute recreational marijuana.

A small town in Los Angeles County is among the first California cities to give out marijuana permits since adult use legalization laws passed last November. Under Proposition 64, which California voters approved last November, recreational sales are scheduled to proceed January 1, 2018.

At a special board meeting July 18, the Lynwood City Council gave preliminary approval to 13 of over 100 marijuana cultivation and production permit applicants.

One of the 13 applicants to obtain marijuana growing and manufacturing licenses in Lynwood is CEO Priscilla Vilchis of Cali Premium Produce, a Latina woman. Vilchis, whose hometown is Lynwood, received preliminary approval for two licenses – a cultivation license for indoor growing, and a Type 6 Manufacturer 1 license. She is the only minority woman on the list of pre-approved applicants.

Vilchis’ company was also awarded two medical marijuana licenses in Nevada in 2014. Vilchis, who has earned the moniker ‘Queen of the Desert,’ plans to apply for an adult use distribution license there once the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services expands its pool of distribution applicants later this year.

Vilchis has said her company’s goals are to cultivate and harvest high-quality cannabis for the California market, while creating jobs, ensuring public safety, and educating the community on cannabis. California’s recreational marijuana market is expected to generate $5 billion in sales. Vilchis believes Cali Premium Produce, which will operate from a new 11,000-square-foot leased facility in Lynwood, can earn $25 million in a year.

“I am very proud to be on the forefront of America’s newest multibillion-dollar industry. I managed to accomplish something that is very difficult by receiving two medical cannabis licenses in Nevada and now preliminary approval for adult-use cannabis licenses in Lynwood,” Vilchis told LA Weekly in an email.

“One of my goals is to educate the public about the benefits of cannabis and, as a Latina, I am especially excited to begin outreach efforts with my Hispanic community,” she added.

Recreational and Medical Marijuana

Women in the cannabis industry are more likely to hold executive titles compared to other industries. Survey data published earlier this year found that women filled more than a third of executive positions in the U.S. cannabis industry, which is a considerable higher gender ratio compared to the 22 percent U.S. business average. There’s also evidence to suggest that female-led cannabis companies are raising more investment capital.

“Before entering this industry I had a long discussion with my parents, who are traditionally more conservative, and I’m happy to say they are in full support of my business goals and mission to promote cannabis as an alternative to opioids,” Vilchis said. “Being a pioneer in this space also helps pave a path for other women and minorities to get involved.”

Lynwood has kick-started LA County’s marijuana licensing efforts and nearby cities are expected to follow suit shortly. The new cannabis industry is expected to boost Lynwood’s general fund, fill vacant properties, and create jobs.

“This is a win for retailers, consumers, and more notably our community,” Lynwood Mayor Maria Santillan-Beas told Bloomberg.

California is one of eight U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana. Learn more about cannabis laws in the U.S. by visiting our education page and keep up with the growing industry through our news feed.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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