The state of California recently became the latest state in the country to allow the cultivation and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. This has opened the door to what is likely one of the largest markets for cannabis on the planet and was a major milestone for the marijuana industry.
One problem that has arisen from the situation is the emergence of illegal dispensaries doing business that are serving to undercut the business owners that have chosen to do things the legal way.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced on Wednesday that a total of 36 criminal complaints have been lodged against 140 individuals and involve 32 shops. The busts are a result of a crackdown the city is making against marijuana dispensaries that are operating without a license.
Feuer, while recently speaking at a press conference, served notice to dispensary operators that are operating illegally that they will face prosecution.
Lieutenant Stacy Spell, who works with the city’s Gang and Narcotics Division informed the public that 160 arrests have been made since the first of the year and $300,000 has been seized. Additionally, 54 search warrants have been served and 29 illegal guns have been taken from the street.
Spell reports that investigators with the division have focused their efforts on storefronts where crime seems prevalent and are working in tandem with the city’s fire department as well as the water and power companies to shut down illegal cannabis operations.
Owners of dispensaries operating illegally are subject to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Feuer says that city officials are hoping that the public announcements will serve to deter illegal dispensary operators from continuing to do business in the city.
Feuer says that plans are in the works to present cease and desist letters to other illegally operating pot shops but did not close the number of shops that are to be targeted with the letters.
Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a city councilman, says that constituents in his district have complained about illegal pot selling operations for years.
The success of legally operating figures in the cannabis industry is dependant on the city being able to crack down on these illegal operations. As one owner bluntly explained, unlicensed dealers should either shut down willingly or be shut down by authorities.