L.A.’s ‘Cannaboss’ Struggles to Find Her Footing

It’s hard not to be impressed by L.A. cannabis czar Cat Packer. She’s young, cool, full of gravitas. And as an African American grassroots organizer, she is personally aware of how the War on Drugs has impacted communities of color.

But it hasn’t been smooth sailing since Packer took over the newly-created Department of Cannabis Regulation two years ago. The city has been plagued by a stubborn black market, extreme licensing delays, alleged lack of transparency and revelations that some people were able to access the licensing process early. The permitting process has been suspended and an audit of Packer’s department has been announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Packer started out as L.A. cannabis’s golden child. Say her name now and you’re likely to hear a lot of negative.

"I still have love for her. I think she’s a brilliant person. But she failed us,” Kika Keith, who wants to open a dispensary, told the Los Angeles Times.

Packer admits to some missteps, but she also points out that many of the decisions impacting cannabis businesses in Los Angeles were made before she ever came onboard. This was a monumental undertaking for any professional. Was Packer set up to fail?

“No one could have done what they were asking her to do,” said Adam Spiker, executive director of the cannabis industry group Southern California Coalition. Others have said city officials preyed on her inexperience.

It will take time to sort out the city’s cannabis licensing problems. In the meantime, fairly or not, Cat Packer remains the face of a deeply troubled experiment.

Read more about Packer’s rocky tenure and how she’s handling it at the Los Angeles Times



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