On Jan. 1, California's Prop 64 went into effect, legalizing recreational marijuana. Los Angeles will become the nation's largest city for pot sales, a business that will net an estimated $50 million a year in additional tax revenues.
How the law will be carried out was discussed in depth on this edition of Eyewitness Newsmakers. Guests were Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, President Pro Tem Mitch Englander and Assistant President Pro Tem Nury Martinez. They are the council's leadership group, expressing confidence that months of hearings have prepared the city for marijuana sales. It looks like initially, the stores selling medical marijuana and complying with the law under Prop D, approved in 2013, will be the first to sell recreational marijuana.
The federal government still considers marijuana illegal, a Schedule 1 drug. Pot shops can't accept credit cards, making them a cash business susceptible to crime. Councilmember Wesson is exploring a city-run bank. He said banks are also looking into transactions outside the federal system. The city is also looking at alternative currency.
In a controversial move aimed at sending a message of assurance to the immigrant community, Los Angeles is declaring itself a city of sanctuary. The LAPD has already lost a $3 million federal grant from the Department of Justice, a move many fear is in retaliation for the city's position on illegal immigration. On Newsmakers, the council members discuss their reasons for the declaration and how they plan legal action for the grant money.
"It's not a crime to be here illegally," Englander said, it's a civil penalty. The council members said police do cooperate with ICE on violent felons.
On homelessness, Martinez said nine housing projects funding by HHH tax money will be breaking ground. The voter-approved sales tax increase will raise over $1 billion for homeless housing.
There was brief discussion on the city examining its policy on sexual harassment.
Watch the full episode in the video above.