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As California Raids Illicit Pot Shops, Legal Industry Struggles With Safety Testing

In Los Angeles alone, more than 500 people have been charged in connection to illegal marijuana dispensaries, while legal ganjapreneurs face their own problems.

Photo via Chris Yarzab

More than eight months into the Golden State’s experiment with adult-use cannabis legalization, California’s police, cannabis regulators, and operators of marijuana businesses are all still working to shut down the state’s persistent black market while offering safe, transparent, and legal products to customers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, L.A. police are ramping up enforcement efforts on unlicensed dispensaries throughout the Southland, with an initial round-up resulting in more than 500 misdemeanor arrests stemming from over 100 unpermitted pot shops. After the shuttering of an unlicensed canna-business in Costa Mesa late last month, the Los Angeles raids signal an increased focus on disrupting the state’s blatant black market.

“Today, we are letting our residents and those who want to flout our laws know that the city is not going to stand idly by, while the safety of our communities are at risk,” Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez said in a statement on Friday.

In July, California moved to end the six-month grace period that had allowed cannabis businesses to operate under the state’s previous (and loosely regulated) medical marijuana program, now requiring every bud sold to travel through legal channels and undergo mandatory safety testing. Because unlicensed pot shops aren’t incentivized to test their pot, and can charge lower prices since they don’t pay tax, California authorities say that they will pursue criminal charges against illegal dispensaries not only to protect customers, but to protect the viability of the state’s growing legal market.

“If [licensed operators] are going to go through this process, it just cannot be the case that others that flout the rules are allowed to function,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer told the Times. “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.”

But when it comes to those fully licensed cultivators and processors, a state license doesn’t automatically assure safe growing practices, or clarity for consumers. According to a new report from the Associated Press, over the first two months of California’s mandated lab testing for legal weed, 20% of more than 10,000 cannabis samples were rejected for either false labeling or contamination.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Zach Harris on Merry Jane

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Published: September 11, 2018

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