Houston, we have a number: After ad nauseam reports about Los Angeles' 1,000-plus pot shops, which some news organizations stated was a number greater than a count of the city's Starbucks outlets, we finally have a number, and it's 583, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Hyperbole be damned.
The department looked at lists of shops forwarded to it by the City Attorney's office (the office had asked for and received LA Weekly's own definitive count of dispensaries — PDF) and had narcotics officers fan out and confirm the outlets that were up and running throughout the city.
“We sent out a project to all our narcotics sections through out the city to go through the list that were compiled by media and the City Attorney's office to determine if they are in fact still there operating and [to confirm] any new ones that they may find,” LAPD Narcotics Division Capt. Kevin F. McCarthy told LA Weekly. “And we came up with a number about of about 583. That number is very fluid. It changes every day.”
That number is close to the 540 shops counted by LA Weekly late last year as part of investigation into how the retail trade of marijuana had gotten so out of hand as the City Council stood by.
What a difference a new year makes. Most of the shops, aside from an estimated 137 registered before 2007 and deemed to be in compliance with the city's new pot-shop ordinance, are targeted for closure.
Dispensaries, however, are challenging the law. “The city is going to be bogged down by years of litigation,” Rainforest Collective pot-shop owner Dan Halbert told the Wall Street Journal.