By Dennis Romero and Steve La
Five Eagle Rock pot shops under June orders to shut down as a result of the city's strict new marijuana dispensary ordinance have stayed open or reopened, according to the observations of a community leader there that were mostly verified by LA Weekly.
“It's kind of frustrating that we worked so hard to get this ordinance in place and now that it's there there's no enforcement and there seems to be nothing anyone can do about it,” Michael Larsen, president of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, told the Weekly.
Larsen was a bit nonplussed when he says he discovered that the “infamous House of Kush reopened” had reopened at its Colorado Boulevard location last week. That and three other dispensaries the Weekly confirmed as targets of new rules that outlawed most dispensaries in L.A. also remained opened along the same street. They include:
-The American Eagle Collective, where a representative said it was open but not accepting new customers. The person who answered the phone also touted a sister store in North Hollywood called Vapors.
-Organic Healing Center, where a representative said the shop was open but that it was not accepting new patients for three weeks.
-Another World Chronic, where the person who answered the phone said the dispensary was open to new customers.
At the House of Kush, a person claiming to be knowledgeable about the shop's situation said that the dispensary had recently reopened but was not seeing new patients.
A fifth dispensary on Colorado, Hemp Factory/The Green Cross, was said by Larson to have reopened as well, but the Weekly could not confirm it.
City Attorney's spokesman Frank Mateljian told the Weekly all five of the above were sent letters by the city warning that they were out of compliance with a tough new dispensary ordinance — passed in spring by the City Council in hopes of pairing down nearly 600 dispensaries to less than 140 — and that they needed to cease operation immediately or face the consequences, which include possible $2,500-a-day fines.
Larsen says one of the tricks dispensaries allegedly use to stay out of trouble is to prohibit new customers, thus shutting their doors to potential undercover “buy-bust” operations by police — operations that net useful evidence if the City Attorney's office wanted to take them to court.
“It's impossible for the undercovers to get in there and buy,” Larsen said. “Unless you were a customer from five months ago you're not going to walk in the door. That's what they've done to avoid undercover busts.”
It's one of a few loopholes used by some dispensaries in order to stay open: Others have closed their front doors only to start delivering weed out the back. Still, the City Attorney's office stated recently that all but 20 or 30 of dispensaries targeted under the city crackdown have closed.