Medical marijuana dispensaries all over Los Angeles could soon be subject to raids and other unsavory law enforcement shakedown tactics if a proposal being heard this week by the LA County Board of Supervisors comes to pass.
On Wednesday, a plan is being considered that could shut the doors on all of the marijuana dispensaries operating in unincorporated areas of the Los Angeles. If the measure proves successful, local marijuana advocates say that as many as 70 dispensaries throughout the county could become targets for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
"We're concerned for the county to take a position that's enforcement-driven instead of providing a pathway toward licensing and regulation," Attorney Ariel Clark, chair of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, told LA Weekly.
This potential crackdown comes with a proposed price tag of $25 million.
An unincorporated area is defined as a geographic location that operates without its own municipal services, and these kinds of jurisdictions are governed more in terms of a small community, where a town council works with the powers of the county to determine policies.
Several years ago, the board outlawed dispensaries in unincorporated jurisdictions. However, a lack of enforcement and overall unawareness of the law has allowed pot shops to emerge in restricted neighborhoods. In other unincorporated areas of the county, special condition permits have been issued that allow a specific number of dispensaries to do business.
This issue has caused a great deal of trouble over the past several years. Not only has it generated unwanted heat for dispensary owners, but as it has caused problems for hundreds of landlords all over the county – many of which have been forced to forfeit buildings and other valuable assets simply because they rented office space to marijuana businesses
A report from The Los Angeles Times shows there were somewhere around 30 civil forfeiture cases against Los Angeles County landlords in 2013 for engaging in this practice. The article suggests that the 2011 ordinance caused an uprising in civil forfeiture activity.
Last month, the board voted to keep the dispensary ban in place, and it is supposed to remain on the books until a more permanent regulatory system is pushed through.
The Board of Supervisors has been warming to the idea of legal marijuana, since some of its more conservative members have termed out, the LA Weekly reports. This is why so many people are confused about the proposed agenda slated for Wednesday calling for “a plan for closing all unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries.”
Some believe the outcome of Measure M, which is scheduled to go before the voters on Tuesday, will dictate how this situation plays out. If it passes, the City Council would be allowed to issues licenses to dispensaries after a series of public hearing. If it fails, the medical marijuana dispensary ban would remain. None of the dispensaries operating in unincorporated areas have been given the necessary permissions (as of January 1) to legally operate. Advocates believe the dispensaries working to go legitimate should be given the first opportunity to get their hands on a license to sell recreational marijuana.