California cannabis trade group threatens to sue L.A. over lack of enforcement against illegal shops

Los Angeles illegal marijuana, California cannabis trade group threatens to sue L.A. over lack of enforcement against illegal shops

Unlicensed marijuana shops still plague Los Angeles’ legal cannabis operators, and the California Minority Alliance (CMA) said it may sue the city attorney’s office if the agency doesn’t step up enforcement efforts against illicit businesses.

The organization sent a letter to L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer seeking more enforcement against illegal shops, which some estimate still number in the hundreds. The potential lawsuit underscores the continued threat that unlicensed retailers pose to the city’s legal businesses.

The CMA, which aims to support minority participation in the state’s marijuana industries, argued in the letter that the city isn’t utilizing “easy fixes.”

According to the letter, lawbreaking MJ shops in South Los Angeles have “been overlooked and ignored” by the city attorney’s office and the “lack of enforcement has turned safe communities into havens for illicit activity encouraging the proliferation of unlawful cannabis operations.”

If enforcement isn’t ramped up, the organization plans to “push action by filing a class action lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles Attorney’s Office” on behalf of licensed marijuana shop owners, social equity business license applicants and South L.A. community leaders.

The city attorney’s office and mayor’s office did not immediately respond to Marijuana Business Daily‘s requests for comment.

L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson spokesman Michael Tonetti wrote in an email to MJBizDaily that the city attorney’s office should “use every tool at its disposal to enforce the law as instructed by the voters of Los Angeles with the passage of Measure M.”

Tonetti was referring to a 2017 ballot measure that authorized new city enforcement tools against lawbreaking marijuana dealers, including $20,000-a-day fines.

“Proactive enforcement of illegal cannabis shops is critical to the effective regulation of this new industry and the success of the City’s Social Equity Program,” Tonetti added.

The United Cannabis Business Alliance (UCBA), a coalition of licensed L.A. cannabis shops, said in a statement it “supports all efforts to eradicate illegal cannabis sales. That’s why we are sponsoring (Assembly Bill) 1417 to hit at the lifeblood of the illicit market especially in Los Angeles – Weedmaps’ continued position to provide advertising to illegal operators.”

The city – especially the city attorney’s office – hasn’t been completely idle with regard to L.A.’s illicit MJ market:

  • Feuer launched a crackdown in April that included a civil lawsuit against one unlicensed business and several associates. The suit sought to utilize the city’s $20,000-a-day penalty for illegal MJ operations for the first time – a legal tactic the CMA wants to see used more frequently against more illegal shops.
  • Feuer’s office noted that, from May 2018 to April 2019, 217 criminal cases were filed involving 172 illegal shops and 840 defendants. At least 113 illegal shops were closed.
  • The L.A. City Council in March authorized utilities to be cut off at locations that were selling marijuana without proper permits.

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

5 comments on “California cannabis trade group threatens to sue L.A. over lack of enforcement against illegal shops
  1. Lance Brofman on

    In a rational world, those favoring enforcement against illegal shops would welcome weedmaps as an easy way to locate and have the authorities close illegal shops , rather than pushing for unconstitutional restraint of free speech.

  2. Dillon Vanderschuit on

    How about they let the free market take control and offer these dispensaries a fair path to being licensed?

    • Pat on

      The “free” market is what the ca. citizen’s were sold on when the “law” was put together and then passed. However, the gov. lied to the people and pulled the rug out from under the mom-pop shops ( the 99% ). They ( the state of ca. and the original cartels, and other deep pocketed groups ) had other plans the whole time. And those plans were to keep has many participants from the market place as possible to keep the prices and therefore the tax revenue as high as possible.

      Now, trade groups are complaining about the previous above board players ( 215/420 compliant businesses that were made illegal after decades of doing business legally since at least 2004 ) eating into their bottom lines. Pretty callous ( by the state ) to think that someone whom had been playing by the rules for up to 20 yrs, and having made HUGE investments in building up their businesses are just going to stop because the state drew a BS line in the sand, and said ” I dare you!” The overwhelming ( and expected ) response has been: “No problem M’fer.” You can blame the state of ca. entirely. And now, they want to throw even more good money after bad by giving law enforcement something to do all over again.

      The cop unions don’t care. So long as they get paid for whatever ….It’s all good to them. Even if it means playing a game of whack-a-mole and not doing anything meaningful with their time; or what’s sustainably good for society. “Hey, at least I’m getting paid/overtime, for easy b.s. work… I’ll take it!!” “And, maybe I’ll get to sneak in a brownie or two like those guys did in Santa Ana!”

      Too many ca. legislator’s don’t give a f**k, because they’re getting enough re-election campaign money from these special interest groups ( The cops union; the big cartel players; and anyone else caught up in facilitating this scheme. ). It’s the unwitting tax payers whose taxes are going to pay for this kind of governance. The ordinary citizen’s wishes and welfare have been completely ignored.

  3. Mike Hancho on

    Let the free market do its thing. These people don’t know how to turn a profit so they’re resorting to predatory tactics.

    • Pat on

      Hancho… I believe that these “people” don’t know what else to do because they were so blind sided by the state, that they’ve resorted to this manner of approaching the problem. And, really, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the real winners here, are the one’s not playing by the state’s latest iteration of the “law.” However, they’ve been placed in a precarious position again, where they’ve become the outlaws that the state was saying it was trying to eliminate. That was an abject lie by the state. So this very large group has been placed a great risk again by their own government, that rather than legislating a law with its basis in inclusivity; they passed one based on entirely on exclusivity; both meanings of the word.

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