Even though the explosion of marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles happened about 5 years ago, we bet you didn't know this:

The city of L.A. considers pot shops that sell weed to strangers for cash — and that's pretty much all of them — illegal. Scary innit?

As such, the LAPD could pretty much shut any of our town's dispensaries down. Sometimes, in fact, they do:

Cops this week announced that Reseda's Natures Answer pot shop was busted after they served search warrants there and at a residence affiliated with the business.

Police say they seized 50 pounds of weed, $17,000 worth of cash and an unregistered


Natures Answer owner handgun Annie Bishop, 37, “was arrested and booked for Possession for Sales of Marijuana and is being held on $50,000 bail,” according to an LAPD statement.

The shop in the 6700 block of Reseda Boulevard was raided about 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to cops.

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The related residence in the 17400 block of Covello Street in Van Nuys was hit next, police said.

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But, but, but, you say, the owner was just running a pot shop like the 500 other pot shops in town. True that, my toking friend, true that.

But, even as dispensary workers announced they were organizing under a powerful local labor union, the LAPD says it could pretty much shut down any bud business in Los Angeles.

If you like medical marijuana (or sell it), LAPD Officer Karen Rayner had some scary words for you:

Marijuana dispensaries are supposed to be run as a cooperative or collective, which means that a group of people get together and facilitate the growth of marijuana and then they can redistribute it among themselves.

She told the Weekly:

It's not a retail store. You're not allowed to plop down $50 and get weed. And when that happens it's illegal.

The LAPD here is echoing the sentiments of City Attorney Carment Trutanich and L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who have blasted L.A. dispensaries for their seemingly for-profit ways.

However, former state Sen. John Vasconcellos argued to the Weekly recently that when he helped to write the law on dispensaries (SB 420), the idea of forbidding for-profit enterprise was never intended.

“It doesn't say it's [profit taking] is forbidden,” he said. “It took lots of compromise.”

However, the likes of former state Attorney General (and current California Gov.) Jerry Brown continue to interpret the law as outlawing the kind of retail weed environment we have in this pot shop capital of the nation.

And, on top of all that, the L.A. City Council is moving toward outlawing them all anyway.

As dispensaries stand today, “We're not quite sure if there any functioning within the bounds of the law,” the LAPD's Rayner said.

So who gets busted then? Rayner:

We're overwhelmed and we can't just go in there and shut them all down. We're chipping away at them a little bit at a time.

So, yeah, don't be paranoid, pot shop owners.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

LA Weekly