It turns out that Los Angeles has taken regulated cannabis pretty seriously this year. Last January saw the implementation of legalized recreational cannabis in California, and a whole host of new laws to govern the weed trade along with it.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office has charged 515 people in 120 criminal cases since May.
These are in connection with 105 different cannabis businesses including extraction labs, dispensaries, grow operations, and delivery companies, according to a statement from City Attorney Mike Feuer released Friday.
Defendants in these cases were charged with misdemeanor charges carrying potential sentences of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Feuer has said that the point of the crackdown is not to punish weed transgressions, but to make sure that the legal businesses in the city actually have a chance to beat out their black market competition.
“If they’re going to go through this process, it just cannot be the case that others that flout the rules are allowed to function,” Feuer said. “It’s bad for those who buy from them, it’s bad for the communities in which they’re located and, again, it threatens to undermine the viability of a system that’s predicated on lawful licensing.”
Los Angeles has long had a gray market weed economy with hundreds of unlicensed or quasi-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries operating, often without much interference from local authorities.
There were 165 approved marijuana retailers and delivery services operating in LA as of last Thursday. Of the 515 charged in the crackdown, so far 21 have pleaded guilty or no contest, 11 were dismissed, 10 are wanted on bench warrants, and one has been placed in a diversionary program. The other cases are still pending.
Photo via Flickr user Giuseppe Milo