As part of LA Weekly's investigation into the largely unregulated nature of the city of Los Angeles' medical marijuana business, the paper looked into each an every one of the more than 800 pot shops registered with City Hall and found that only 540 were actually operating (PDF). The paper also found some interesting examples of the kind of retail establishments hardly envisioned by 1996's medical marijuana initiative, which legalized pot-growing “collectives” for the “seriously ill.” Some shops appear to operate out of post-office boxes, and at least one offers delivery.

Some of the dispensaries had closed, others had never opened and some refused to give the Weekly information about their status despite being registered publicly as medical marijuana “caregivers.” The Weekly could not verify as many as 70 registered dispensaries because they could not be contacted (some, for example, led calls directly to voice mail and never called back) .

In one case, for example, a person answering the phone listed with the city indicated that no pot shop was in operation — that the Weekly had, in fact, contacted a private address. But a drive-by investigation revealed a business sign at the locale consistent with its pot-shop name.

The Weekly found that some of the retail operations had no signs at all — only addresses marked their existence for potential customers. A few operations appeared to be working from post office boxes. One outlet was in an industrial park. It had a note on the door giving instructions for FedEx deliveries. One operates out of an apartment complex. Another business, Valley Discount Compassionate Caregivers, offered delivery; a person who answered the phone said he could come over “right now.”

One shop, DNC Medical, is right across the street from Van Nuys City Hall and a Los Angeles Police Department station.

See our full list (PDF) of registered dispensaries here.

LA Weekly