Key Question in Wake of Los Angeles Dispensary Ban: How Will City Enforce New Law?

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After backing a proposal to rid Los Angeles of storefront dispensaries, local officials must now figure out exactly how to enforce the controversial ordinance.

It could prove to be a gargantuan task.

There’s no concrete data on the number of dispensaries currently operating in L.A., but estimates range from about 700 to nearly 1,000.

The problem is that some dispensaries – as many as 200, according to this report – have not registered with the city, making them difficult to track. Combine that with the presence of what LA Weekly calls “illicit pop-up shops that come and go quickly,” and it becomes extremely difficult to ensure each and every dispensary shuts down (and remains closed).

Los Angeles hasn’t done a very good job up to this point of policing and regulating the industry, so there’s a big question mark around its ability to enforce the ban. Local officials have indicated as much, with one city council member even admitting that Los Angeles might not have the ability to shut down every dispensary.

Officials plan to send out letters warning dispensaries to shut down or face the possibility of prosecution. But you can bet it will take more to force some dispensaries to close.

One possible solution presented by two council members: Create a “dedicated enforcement unit” that allows Los Angeles to “expeditiously enforce the city-adopted ordinance relative to medical marijuana.”

But for this plan and any others to work, Los Angeles will need find money and resources. Good luck with that.