Yesterday the Los Angeles Police Department served search warrants on over 50 illegal marijuana dispensaries taking into custody around 160 employees. The raid ultimately resulted in 36 criminal cases filed against 42 defendants, and over 6,000 lbs of cannabis were confiscated. This is the largest crackdown on unlicensed cannabis retailers since the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Criminal Charges Filed
City Attorney Mike Feuer stated to KTLA that, “If you’re operating an illegal cannabis shop selling medical marijuana then you’re going to be subject to criminal prosecution.” While the charges filed are technically misdemeanors under Proposition 64, they could be charged for compliance violations every day they were in operation. Persons convicted of these charges could potentially face up to six months in jail and $1000 fine per violation.
Targeting Problem Dispensaries
The LAPD’s operation to stamp out illegal marijuana dispensaries comes one a few weeks after the Bureau of Cannabis Control sent cease and desist letters to cannabis retailers who were making sales without a commercial business license. Feuer notes that, “The combination of significant amounts of cash and marijuana at these locations can make them dangerous.”
LAPD were specifically targeting illegal marijuana dispensaries that were known for causing crime and had received multiple community complaints. Lt. Stacy Spell of the LAPD’s Gang and Narcotics Division remarked that, “We’ve tried to be very responsible with taxpayer money, understanding that we have limited resources and are not able to necessarily address all of the locations.”
Cease and Desist
It is very possible that cannabis regulators and law enforcement have been using Weedmaps to find illegal marijuana dispensaries, even though Weedmaps claims that they are protected under the old law until the end of this year when new regulations sunset clause takes effect.
In addition to filing charges against those already in custody, City Attorney Mike Feuer will also be issuing more cease and desist letters to other known illegal marijuana dispensaries. The City of Los Angeles wants to send a clear message that they will be proactive when it comes to enforcing the new state regulations and any cannabis retailer without a business license is at risk of being raided and charged with criminal misdemeanors.