L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer says he's almost got the town's pot shop problem licked.
Since voters passed Proposition D in 2013, which limited the number of dispensaries in L.A. to about 135, the count on registered stores actually ballooned to 1,140 before settling down to 972, far more than you'll find in the entire state of Colorado. Feuer has furthermore previously said that at least 100 have shut down, thanks to the efforts of his office.
On Tuesday, the top city prosecutor said that the number of shops in L.A. has now been cut in half, with 402 taken out by criminal cases, civil action and more.
"More than 400 medical marijuana businesses have been shut down since I took office," he said at a news conference:
There was no inventory of the medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. We worked very closely. And now on a police division by division basis, I have documents that reflect the number of dispensaries that have been in existence during the time that I've been in office. I can identify those that have been shut down, those that are the subject of investigation, those that are subject of criminal prosecution. From that documentation, it appears as though we have closed approximately half of the medical marijuana dispensaries that have existed in the city during the past 17 months or so since I've been in office.
Sounds promising but remember, not all dispensaries are easy to track. We've seen a few if not several crop up in recent months along L.A.'s busiest corridors, including Pico Boulevard, Venice Boulevard and Washington Boulevard.
Are they legit? It seems unlikely since a deadline to move in order to comply with Proposition D's mandate to exist away from schools and parks passed nearly a year ago.
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What's more, we discovered a scheme by which owners of shops that are technically legit under Proposition D — they're some of the 135 or so allowed to survive — have opened franchises as if multiple stores could operate under one "license."
Feuer's office says it has filed more than 200 criminal cases against 743 defendants, including both operators and property owners.
That should give pot proprietors the chills. But somehow it seems like it hasn't.
With reporting from L.A. Weekly staff writer Gene Maddaus. Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.