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Dispensary Crackdown in Los Angeles

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When the L.A. City Attorney’s Office released the list of 134 approved dispensaries for the city, the implication was plain: all others will be closed. Whether or not it happens depends on the wiliness of the city to enforce its ordinances. If they stick to their guns, operations which remain open against the law face fines and prosecution.

Letters were sent out last month to offending dispensaries, warning them that they were in violation of L.A.’s city ordinances which prohibit any dispensary opened after a 2007 moratorium from operating in the city limits. Since voters approved this measure, and because the courts have upheld the ability of cities to regulate dispensaries within their borders, it may be that this time, the city will follow through on its threats. In the past, dispensary owners simply ignored city demands. Some felt they could hide in the crowd of approved operations, which number more than 800. Others flouted the law, relying on the lack of city resources to close the high number of violators.

What happens next is up to the city. At least some of those who got warning letters will ignore them. They won’t pay much attention until the city starts making arrests or levying fines, something that will take serious political will.

According to Medical Marijuana Business Daily, dispensaries have options. They could change from fixed to mobile operations and offer delivery only. This may or may not be legal, but it’s not part of the new enforcement package. Others might simply move to another part of the state, outside the city limits. Those that remain will have to pay more for the privilege, with taxes going up $10 for every thousand in sales (from $50 to $60) and new limits set on hours. Background checks have also been put in place, as well as new zoning restrictions.

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