Los Angeles Files Charges Against Dozens of Unlicensed Cannabis Businesses

Published on May 30, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Skip The Traffic: Sleep, play, eat, and smoke in downtown L.A. for a weekend. (iStock)
Skip The Traffic: Sleep, play, eat, and smoke in downtown L.A. for a weekend. (iStock)

LOS ANGELES — After five months of legal commercial cannabis sales in LA, local law enforcement and elected officials announced at a press conference Wednesday that they are cracking down on cannabis businesses operating without a license.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said that his office has so far filed 36 criminal cases against a total of 140 defendants. The cases are associated with 32 cannabis shops and one delivery service, Feuer said, adding that his office prioritized locations associated with additional types of criminal activity.

“If you’re operating an illegal cannabis shop,” Feuer said, “you’re going to be subject to criminal prosecution.”

All of the named defendants face misdemeanor charges, each of which carries a maximum of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

While the 32 unlicensed shops are spread throughout the city, nearly a third are in the South LA area, officials said. Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, whose 8th District encompasses a large swath of Southwest LA including Baldwin Hills and Hyde Park, said he hopes other city departments follow Feuer’s lead and act aggressively against unlicensed businesses.

Feuer encouraged all LA residents looking to purchase cannabis to do their part to support legal businesses.

Under Measure M, which was passed last year by LA voters and paved the way for the city’s current regulatory structure, it’s not just the LAPD and Feuer’s office who have enforcement power. With City Council authorization, for example, the Department of Water and Power can disconnect utilities being used for unauthorized cannabis activity.

In addition to criminal charges announced today, the City Attorney’s Office is also preparing to send cease and desist letters to operators that, based on “preliminary assessments,” are operating without the necessary temporary approvals, Feuer said.

Under another local regulatory measure, Proposition D, certain medical marijuana dispensaries were given “limited immunity” to operate before the city lifted a blanket ban on the industry. During that time, the City Attorney’s Office helped shut down more than 1,000 illegal shops, Feuer said, warning that his office is going to be “equally aggressive” in the latest round of enforcement.

“Businesses that flout the City’s new cannabis law will be held accountable,” the city attorney said in a statement. “I urge all property owners and marijuana businesses to follow the law and work with my office and the City’s Department of Cannabis Regulation to avoid facing serious criminal consequences.”

Since January 2018, the LAPD has seized 6,200 pounds of cannabis and confiscated 29 guns from illegal operators, said Lt. Stacy Spell. Citing limited resources and an effort to spend taxpayer money responsibly, Spell said the LAPD has focused on identifying illegal businesses that also impact the quality of life for residents in the surrounding community, whether from repeated nuisances or outright criminal behavior.

More than 140 permitted dispensaries currently operate in the city of Los Angeles. But the continued vigor of the region’s underground market has frustrated many licensed business owners and, some say, cut into the state’s expected cannabis revenue.

Feuer encouraged all LA residents looking to purchase cannabis to do their part to support legal businesses, by visiting the Department of Cannabis Regulation’s website to view the complete list of legal shops. “If a location is not on that list, I urge residents of our city not to shop there,” he said.

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According to the city attorney’s office, locations associated with the filings include:

  • 4874 S. Huntington Drive in El Sereno
  • 12777 San Fernando Road in Sylmar
  • 945 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington
  • 841 Gardena Blvd in Gardena
  • 12737 Glen Oaks Drive in Sylmar
  • 16400 S. Vermont Avenue in Harbor Gateway
  • 10530 S. Broadway in South Los Angeles
  • 1151 Pacific Coast Highway in Harbor City
  • 2601 S. Normandie in Koreatown
  • 21044 Sherman Way #219 in Canoga Park
  • 15238 Saticoy in Van Nuys
  • 11422 S. Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles
  • 8717 Woodman Avenue in Panorama City
  • 14626 Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys
  • 521 S. Alvarado Street near MacArthur Park
  • 930 S. Robertson in Pico-Robertson
  • 10924 S. Main Street in South Los Angeles
  • 10352 Laurel Canyon Blvd in Pacoima
  • 9362 San Fernando Road in Foothill
  • 5611 Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood
  • 5943 York Blvd in Northeast
  • Dank of Cali, Inc. a Marijuana Delivery Service
  • 15201 Oxnard Street in Van Nuys
  • 1815 W. Jefferson in Jefferson Park
  • 4271 Crenshaw Blvd in Leimert Park
  • 3014 W. Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles
  • 10958 S. Main Street in South Los Angeles
  • 6515 S. Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles
  • 9820 San Fernando Road in Pacoima
  • 11880 S. Main Street in South Los Angeles
  • 2214 S. Vermont Avenue in West Adams
  • 2315 S. Vermont Avenue in West Adams
  • 3206 W. Vernon in Southwest

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Hayley Fox
Hayley Fox
Hayley Fox is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She writes about cannabis legalization, news, crime, and culture in Southern California and beyond. Her work has been published online and in print for Leafly, Rolling Stone, Playboy, VICE, LA Weekly, and others.
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