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Crackdown on Illegal L.A. Pot Shops May Include Shutting Off Utilities

With hundreds of illegal marijuana shops continuing to operate in the city, a Los Angeles City Council committee will vote Tuesday on an ordinance aimed at cracking down on the businesses by shutting off their utilities.

“Shutting down the utilities for an operation that’s illegally operating, it’s a no-brainer, it’s just that simple,” City Councilwoman Nury Martinez said last week. “By operating in a community illegally you are creating havoc, you’re not playing by the rules, you should get shut down.”

The Cannabis Regulation Commission also expressed support for the idea last week, along with a number of other aggressive methods to crack down on the dispensaries, including the formation of a special task force.

“I’m frustrated, as many of you are,” Commission President Robert Ahn said last week during a meeting of the commission. “I would have to say of all of the cannabis questions that I get or inquiries, at the top of the list is enforcement, and it’s really the one issue that, whether you are in the industry, part of the industry or in the community, (is) something that everyone agrees on. It’s just common sense. If you create laws, what good are the laws if they cannot be enforced?”

The commission unanimously voted to send a letter to the City Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee asking the city to immediately establish a task force on unlicensed cannabis businesses to include members of the Department of Cannabis Regulation, the Los Angeles Police and Fire departments, the Department of Building and Safety, Department of Water and Power, and the city attorney’s and mayor’s offices.

The Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on the utility ordinance during a morning meeting.

The letter also will recommend that the task force consider shutting off utilities of illegal pot shops, padlocking or barricading illegal businesses, prosecuting the operators and the landlords, and assessing fines and penalties to property owners that allow unlicensed dispensaries to use their property.

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Published: March 05, 2019

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