Earlier this month we got the 2013 numbers showing how many marijuana dispensaries in the city of L.A. have filed to pay a special city "collective" tax. The data reflect how many weed retailers are in L.A. And that number is higher than any other number we had seen in nearly five years: 1,140.
This despite repeated city crackdowns and a new law, passed last year, that limits the number of shops in town to the 135 or fewer - the ones that were considered legit before a 2007 city council "moratorium."
Well, it looks like the law, Proposition D, and the efforts of L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer, who has made legal moves against dozens of stores, are having an amazing effect:
Numbers unveiled by the city Department of Finance this week show that so far only 462 business tax renewals have been filed for "L050" businesses in 2014 - aka collectives - a finance official told us.
That's far less than half the number of shops cited earlier, even if it is nearly three times the allowed number of shops.
Of course, it's possible there are dispensaries in town that have gone rogue. But the year-to-year numbers, which indicate that even illegitimate shops wanted to pay their taxes last year, are telling.
The deadline for filing was Feb. 28, but the Office of Finance seemed to open the door to the possibility that more collectives would file late.
Feuer told us in February that his office did not have a count of how many dispensaries were out there. But he said that his office sent out warning letters to all that it knew existed, letters telling them to shut down or face civil liability and possible prosecution.
One of the city attorney's key tools has been telling landowners who rent to shops that they could also be dragged into court.
Here's part of what he said:
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Now that everybody in the community realizes we're moving systematically to enforce Proposition D, they're taking action. One lawyer indicated that, 'Now that we see you're enforcing this, we want to talk to you about an appropriate plea.'
[Added at 1:55 p.m.]: Feuer had this to say about the pot shop figures.
These new numbers are another indication of the progress we are making in upholding the will of the voters by enforcing Proposition D and reducing the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.