A recent UCLA count only found 472 dispensaries operating in the city of Los Angeles, despite claims by the L.A. City Attorney's office that there might be as many as 1,046 of them.

In 2009 LA Weekly called every listed pot shop in L.A. and counted 545.

UCLA associate professor of social welfare Bridget Freisthler says she used only the city's data and concluded, according to a press release, that …

… only 472 were actually operating as dispensaries.

That would discount arguments that every time the city tries to regulate cannabis retailers, the number of them seems to double.

That might have been the case in 2009 after a 2007 “moratorium” on shops only led to an explosion.

Credit: UCLA

Credit: UCLA

After a 2010 attempt to outlaw most dispensaries was met with defiance it appeared that the number nearly doubled again, from that 545 to more than 1,000.

But that's not so, says the recent UCLA count.

Freisthler took the city's list of “875 unique locations, including 762 dispensaries registered with the city,” and discovered that the number was much less, at 472.

The City Attorney's office last month sent warning letters regarding the city's now defunct ban to 1,774 locations, although some were duplicates that included both landlords and operators. The number of shops was estimated by the city to be 1,046.

Why would the city lie? Well, it's possible that City Hall wanted to make this thing look like it's out of control so that it will get your support for its ban.

UCLA notes that …

… The number of medical marijuana dispensaries currently in operation in Los Angeles is roughly the same as the number of bars in the city, and it represents roughly 20 percent of the number of off-premise outlets that sell alcohol, such as liquor and grocery stores …

But — and this is a huge but — we've been told by good sources that rogue, off-the-books dispensaries have been opening in the last year or so in an attempt to take advantage of the green gold rush before a city ban takes effect. It appears that UCLA failed to try to to account for these.

By the way, the city's latest ban on dispensaries was supposed to happen Sept. 6. It's on hold in the wake of a city referendum that would ask voters to overturn it.

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

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