Possible Catch-22 in LA’s Dispensary Shutdowns

Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensary owners in Los Angeles could face criminal charges under Proposition D, even if they willfully close up shop.

The measure, which was approved last year, effectively bans all but 135 dispensaries in Los Angeles. A handful of dispensaries that did not obtain clearance have voluntarily shut their doors, however hundreds more are still operating.

Local lawyer Mieke ter Poorten said she has dispensary clients that are now ready to comply and shut down. However, she claims the City Attorney’s office told her that these dispensaries would still face misdemeanor Superior Court charges because they remained open after the new measure took effect.

The penalties for owners include three years of probation. While their records can be cleared after probation, employers can still see the charges.

Because the city will not allow dispensaries to close without a criminal conviction, “there’s no point in settling,” Ter Poorten said. “We might as well go to trial.”

In a statement, City Attorney Mike Feuer refuted Ter Poorten’s comments. He said prosecutors review each case individually and propose “appropriate sentencing terms to fit the circumstances of each case.”

Ter Poorten said there would be a wave of closures if the office was more willing to compromise.

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