One of the strange facts of life in the city of Los Angeles is that, while voters last year approved a measure that would shut down all but 135 or so marijuana dispensaries in town, about 945 have registered to pay taxes to City Hall.

It's nice to know that so many illegal pot shops are trying to make things right and at least pay taxes, but it's a little bizarre to know that there's a long list of city-recognized dispensaries when there should only be 135.

City Council members Nury Martinez and Jose Huizar this week proposed to stop the practice of letting illicit shops sign up to pay city taxes.


At issue are the city's Business Tax Registration Certificates, which are technically required for any store in town that opens its doors.

“To the general public, an official City of Los Angeles BTRC displayed in a local business gives the appearance that the location is operating legitimately,” reads the motion by Martinez and Huizar. ” … A BTRC is only a mechanism for their collection of business taxes and is not a license to operate.”

The proposal wants to have the city's Office of Finance stop issuing business tax certificates to illegitimate pot shops. It also would like to see a “verification and renewal process” for legit shops.

Martinez said illicit dispensaries use the certificates to fake out landlords and the public.

Credit: File photo by Susan Slade Sanchez/L.A. Weekly

Credit: File photo by Susan Slade Sanchez/L.A. Weekly

The certificates, however, also allow the city to rake in about $3 million in dispensary taxes. Much of that could be wiped out if only the legit, 135 shops were allowed to pay their tributes to City Hall.

The councilman said she was fine with that:

While our city continues to profit from these illegal businesses, my residents in my neighborhoods, in my district, are paying the price, and that's just simply not OK. Children should not have to pass by dispensary after dispensary on their way home, or on their way to school or while they're shopping with their parents.

With reporting from City News Service. Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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