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L.A. Weekly Counts 545 Pot Shops in Los Angeles

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Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 11:00 AM


From the Wall Street Journal to the Daily News to members of the Los Angeles City Council, a lot of people seem to think there are up to 1,000 medical weed stores in this city.

Guess they still haven't looked at L.A. Weekly's PDF linked in our November cover story: "L.A.'s Medical-Weed Wars."

click to enlarge Medical pot advocates gather at a recent "Harvest Festival" in Hollywood. - GREGORY BOJORQUEZ
  • Gregory Bojorquez
  • Medical pot advocates gather at a recent "Harvest Festival" in Hollywood.

During a two-month investigation, the Weekly's reporting team drove 950 miles, made approximately 1,400 phone calls, and determined there are some 545 pot shops operating in Los Angeles city limits.

Not 800 or a 1,000, as NPR recently reported, or more than 1,000.

545.

Which is still a huge number, especially when you consider all of them have been operating without city regulations.

The Weekly's efforts to get a handle on the exact number of medical weed stores did not go unnoticed by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich -- his staff used our PDF as source material for a count of 186 pot shops that opened before the city's failed 2007 medical marijuana dispensary moratorium.

The City Attorney's Office made the count at the behest of the City Council, whose members, such as Janice Hahn and Eric Garcetti, had no clue how many pre-moratorium pot shops were open for business.

In fact, during a recent council meeting, City Council President Garcetti asked city agencies, including the Planning Department, for such a hard number. City staffers didn't utter a word.

Why?

City government, even though the City Council is creating legislation largely influenced by the proliferation of pot shops, still hasn't built a central database to track how many medical weed stores are operating.

As we wrote in our cover story, the Weekly found "the pot shops are not concentrated near hospitals or sicker, poorer, older populations. Only five could be found in Ed Reyes' Eastside District 1 and just 10 in Bernard Parks' District 8 in South L.A.

"Instead, the pot sellers concentrate in wealthier areas including Westwood and the West Valley, tourist areas such as Venice and Melrose, and nightlife districts such as Hollywood. Paul Koretz's Westside District 5 has 73, Bill Rosendahl's beachfront District 11 has 54 and Eric Garcetti's Hollywood District 13 has 63."

As for our pre-moratorium count, we differed with the City Attorney by only five pot shops: L.A Weekly, 142 ... City Attorney's Office, 137.

A City Attorney representative said the difference may be the fact that although five pot shops had the same name and location as the original medical weed store on the city's books, they did not have the same owner. So the City Attorney's Office did not include those five pot shops in its count.

The information is there, and anyone can use it ... especially the City Council members who are still working on the fine points of a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance for L.A.

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