Closing down pot shops is an annual April ritual that celebrates 4/20, law-and-order-style.
Last month the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to create a pot shop task force that would close down illegal dispensaries throughout its jurisdiction.
This month, just ahead of the stoners' holiday, that task force has been busy at work closing cannabis retailers left and right.
You see, cannabis collectives are not legal in unincorporated areas of the county. The Board of Supervisors made that so in 2011.
But that hasn't stopped shops from opening their doors in places like East Los Angeles and the high desert.
So the newly created Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has been hard at work raiding pot shops, says Lt. Anthony Baudino.
Yesterday two dispensaries in East Los Angeles were “shut down,” he said. Deputies recently hit one in Lake Los Angeles in the high desert recently. And, in Compton, the Sheriff's Department targeted two collectives last week.
However, Baudino said, sometimes it's just a game of whack-a-mole.
While the lieutenant said as many as 40 storefronts have been raided since the board voted to create the task force March 10, he also said many have reopened.
Those two shops in Compton, for example, were back open by the weekend, he said.
“As soon as I leave, they order another batch of pot and go right back to work again,” Baudino said.
In East Los Angeles, an unincorporated community, there are still 31 dispensaries operating illegally, he said. Some had come to the neighborhood seeking respite from crackdowns in the city of Los Angeles, where only up to 135 shops are supposed to be open but where hundreds more have been shut down for being rogue businesses.
“We'll get to as many of them as we can,” Baudino said.
We also spoke to a dispensary operator who had his business closed by deputies in the high desert last week.
“I opened up in unincorporated L.A. County and they ended up shutting me down,” he said. “They took my produce and $800 or $900 and off they went — no charges.”
“I guess they have enough money to do that,” the operator said. “It's always been illegal in unincorporated L.A. County, but why didn't we get to vote on that?”
The source says he already moved his operation to friendlier climes — neighboring Kern County.