Risky Business: Some LA Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Remain Open Despite Ban?

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Scores of Los Angeles dispensaries are preparing to close on Sept. 6, when a new citywide ban on medical marijuana centers takes effect.

But some cannabis centers are reportedly considering another option: Stay open and try to fly under the radar.

Here are several reasons why they might go this route:

– It’s still unclear how Los Angeles will enforce the ban – and whether it even has the resources to do so effectively. Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter sent warning letters to more than 1,000 dispensaries and 728 landlords threatening fines and jail time for those who don’t comply. Following through on the threats could be difficult, though. If the city takes a lax approach to enforcement, dispensary owners might figure they can skate by with little pressure.

– There are several key pending court cases tied to medical marijuana that could end in a favorable ruling for California and LA dispensaries, which would severely undermine the ban. At the same time, local officials are trying to draft up a plan that would allow dispensaries that launched before a 2007 moratorium to continue operating in the city. Lastly, a pro-MMJ group is attempting to overturn the ban via a voter referendum. Some dispensaries might try to hang on and continue operating until one or all of these issues play out rather than close and then have to reopen (and absorb all the costs of doing so).

– Some dispensary owners simply think they are on the right side of the law and plan to challenge any direct order to close.

Staying open is a huge gamble, of course, and most MMJ lawyers would likely advise against defying the ban.

Regardless, it looks like some – and possibly many – dispensaries will take this calculated risk. So don’t expect the medical marijuana market in Los Angeles to come to a standstill overnight.