Shutting Down Pot Shops Isn't As Easy As You'd Think. Case In Point: KFC


That's what Jay Handal, West Los Angeles neighborhood council chairman, calls the city's failure to shut down pot shops that are out of the compliance with the medical marijuana ordinance, which took effect June 7. Handal, who owns San Gennaro restaurant in Brentwood, said he has no problem with pot, per se, but believes the city ought to enforce its own laws.

The problem is that shutting down the shops is a bit more complicated and could take longer than anyone realizes.

The Weekly reported on the still-open pot shops last week. (Of about 580 pot shops in the city, 439 were determined not in compliance by the City Attorney. Quite a few have remained open.)

"What scares us is that because nothing is happening, they are reopening and going mobile," he said, referring to reports of a mobile dispensary at the Lakers parade Monday, giving out pot lollipops. (Will we someday view pot lollipops the way we look at candy cigarettes now, as a little off?)

Handal said he saw the city's fecklessness firsthand with his own sleuthing outside the "KFC" pot shop in Palms, which made an appearance on "South Park" after the Weekly noted its existence last year.

Friday he was parked near there and watched what appeared to be a still functioning pot business. He wasn't the only one to notice: A local ABC news truck had parked across the street.

Handal called the City Attorney's office; someone there told him they had referred the noncompliance to police.

Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the City Attorney, said LAPD is the agency charged with enforcing city code.

"We're trying to get a handle on what has been an out-of-control, large problem," he said. "We're moving as expeditiously as we can to identify the shops and point police in the right direction."

Regardless, Handal, a Brooklyn native who has retained the tough accent even after 35 years here, has grown frustrated.

Sitting outside KFC, watching customers come and go, he called police at 10:45 a.m. About four hours later, a squad car pulled up. They went inside. They came outside and told the ABC news truck the news crew they were parked illegally, and left.

You can watch the local ABC affiliate's video here. It's entertaining in the way local TV news is.

According to the ABC report, the proprietor of KFC says they were wrongly put on the shutdown list despite registering in 2005 and thus meeting the deadline for compliance.

Handal wants to know why the cops didn't just arrest the propietor and seize what is likely a decent haul of pot.

When we met him at his restaurant today, he took a call from the office of the Chief Charlie Beck and explained his frustration to the chief's rep.

In defense of the cops, however, prosecutors really don't like shoddy case work. They want airtight cases, which require real police work even when the sign on the door says "Kind for Cures" and the place is pretty obviously selling pot. Once they have those cases, they can go with force and make an example of the out-of-compliance shops.

Until then, much to Handal's frustration, KFC and others like it can keep selling.

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