The first fines are coming in under Los Angeles’ effort to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries across the city.
A landlord in South L.A. has paid a $500 fine, the first collected under Measure D. He was fined for leasing space to an unregistered dispensary.
Measure D was approved by voters earlier this year. It’s an attempt to force order on a traditionally chaotic dispensary scene, mostly by dramatically cutting the number of marijuana shops in Los Angeles.
There are no reliable estimates on how many dispensaries, legal and otherwise, operate in the city, but at peak there were more than 2,000, according to city officials. Under Measure D, that number is supposed to drop to 135.
All of those selected dispensaries were already open in 2007, when the city enacted a moratorium on pot shops. The hundreds of stores that arrived after that point are now considered illegal.
City News Service reports that the landlord is Donald Curtis Andrews and he leased the space to Universal Holistic Collective. He has pleaded no contest to violating Measure D. Along with the fine, he is banned from renting to marijuana shops in the future.
So far, the office of City Attorney Mike Feuer has targeted about 50 landlords and dispensary operators. At least 40 have closed shop since receiving letters informing their owners they will face legal action.
The crackdown is intended to reduce the city’s dispensaries to a manageable number. California has long been labeled a poster child for problems with medical marijuana, and L.A. is often highlighted as the center of the storm.
But it’s not clear it’s having the desired effect, at least not yet. Even as some illegal shops close, new ones appear to be opening at a regular pace. And that could be a good thing for patients, as prices drop amid the competition.
Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, yet problems continue to persist with the state’s program. Hundreds of cities, towns and counties have banned dispensaries within their borders, and many local governments are eager to prosecute providers. California has also long been a target of federal law enforcement. Measure D was seen as a way for L.A. to deal with both problems.