Los Angeles marijuana, L.A. trade group seeks enforcement, felonies for tainted marijuana sales

On the heels of a cannabis trade group letter last week threatening a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles over its alleged lack of enforcement against illegal marijuana shops, another MJ-focused organization sent a note to city leaders.

Instead of a threat, though, the second letter was an olive branch full of policy suggestions.

The Southern California Coalition (SCC) wrote to City Attorney Mike Feuer with a white paper that outlined suggestions for a more effective approach at clamping down on unlicensed MJ businesses that are still rampant throughout L.A. – including possible felony charges for endangering consumers by selling contaminated products.

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The group focused its comments on how product testing and safeguarding the public from potentially toxic cannabis could be a better way to target illicit actors and also hailed the city attorney’s office for a new approach it began in April.

But the SCC’s letter suggested that testing should be expanded beyond pesticides to include testing for heavy metals, as is already required by the state for legal MJ products. The SCC noted that fentanyl-laced marijuana was recently seized in upstate New York.

The SCC offered several suggestions, but perhaps the most stringent was that unlicensed MJ retailers selling tainted product could possibly be charged with felonies instead of only misdemeanors or civil fines, which has been mostly the approach used by the city since the 2017 passage of Measure M.

“The maximum felony fines and jail time allowable when someone knowingly circulates a deadly product should be imposed on the operator of the shop, particularly if the flower came from the operator’s personal grow,” the SCC letter noted.

“When it’s clear that an illegal operation is circulating products with deadly additives, the city needs to abandon civil nuisance abatement and move quickly to indict the wrongdoer.”