The Los Angeles city attorney’s office is stepping up its war against what the city deems to be illegal medical marijuana dispensaries.
Last month City Attorney Mike Feuer filed suit against a new retail pot shop that was trying to open in Mar Vista. Owners Justin Keirn, Patrick Murphy and Harvey Katofsky were sued along with Lancaster Villas LLC, Hypericum Interests LLC, and Palmdale Land Co.
The move raises the stakes in Feuer’s fight against shops that fall outside the scope of Measure D, the new set of dispensary regulations approved by voters in May. Feuer began issuing fines against scofflaws in October.
California Medical Marijuana History
California first enacted medical pot in 1996. A few years later, dispensaries began popping up around L.A. In 2007, when the city council imposed a moratorium, city officials said there were 135 legally operating dispensaries in L.A.
In the years since, hundreds have opened despite the moratorium, bringing the total to a peak that city officials estimated to be more than 2,000. Voters complained the situation was out of control, so they were offered three choices at the ballot box this year.
Making a Decision on Dispensaries
They chose Measure D, which caps the number of legal pot shops at 135 and imposes additional regulations. As soon as the initiative was in place, Feuer began cracking down on storefronts not included in the approved list.
That has already led to complaints that he’s going after the wrong shops. Attorney Arthur Hodge has threatened to sue the city on the grounds that his clients, two dispensaries, have wrongly been targeted with enforcement.
Hodge represents the Downtown Patients Group Dispensary and the Timothy Leary Memorial Dispensary, which is not on the list of 135 approved shops. Hodge says both these dispensaries follow the regulations laid out by Measure D. The list, he says, is based on arbitrary information and excludes shops that follow the rules.
“There are plenty of dispensaries not on that list that pay their taxes, registered before 2007 and are more legitimate than the businesses that opened up later, and the city is refusing to add them to the list,” Hodge said. “It’s not fair to the businesses that have been around and have complied with everything, because they are getting lumped in with the new businesses that are breaking the rules .”