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City, Police Announce New Campaign to Crack Down on Illegal Medical Pot Dispensaries

Officials are now enlisting the help of real estate agents.

City and police officials are enlisting the help of real estate agents to help prevent the proliferation of illegal medical marijuana dispensaries. Patch file photo.
City and police officials are enlisting the help of real estate agents to help prevent the proliferation of illegal medical marijuana dispensaries. Patch file photo.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and police Chief Charlie Beck announced today a campaign to help property owners and real estate agents comply with Proposition D, a measure regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.

Proposition D, approved in May 2013, bans all but about 100 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.

Feuer's office will be distributing brochures to real estate brokers to make sure they, as well as property owners and businesses, are "fully apprised of their responsibilities."

Since the pot shop ban took effect July 20, Feuer has filed numerous cases against both business and property owners.

"We've been prosecuting hundreds of dispensary owners, operators, managers and others -- nearly 300 such individuals have been the subject of our criminal prosecution so far," he said.

Following a combination of warning letters, criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement lawsuits, "more than 100 dispensaries have closed so far," Feuer said.

About 800 dispensaries were estimated to be operating illegally when Proposition D was approved.

Feuer recently secured an injunction against real estate brokers and a sales person involved in a planned medical marijuana dispensary in Mar Vista.

Feuer said today his attorneys "have found through our prosecution or enforcement of Proposition D that there is a lot of misinformation among realtors."

An "urban legend" has circulated agents that "the mere receipt of a business tax registration certificate displays the lawfulness of a medical marijuana business, and that is false," Feuer said.

Feuer said he was partnering with the Southland Regional Association of Realtors to ensure its membership of about 10,000 real estate agents is better informed of the law. The organization's president, Mel Wilson, said they "want to make sure our realtor members do not get in trouble with the law, nor do we want our clients to be in trouble with the law.

"So we will do our best to educate our members about what the rules are and help get that message out to our clients so they will not be an unwilling participant in breaking the law," he said.

Feuer also said today two additional attorneys have been assigned to enforcing Proposition D, while Beck announced all 165 of the police department's senior lead officers will be trained in the law, "identifying and in some cases making notifications of illegal operations of medical marijuana dispensaries in their area of responsibility."

"I think Prop D is a work in progress and that work has been dramatically improved by the efforts to the city attorney," Beck said. "We have struggled in the state, not just in L.A., since the initial legalization of medical marijuana to find the right balance to get it to the people who need it and keep it out of neighborhoods that don't."

--City News Service

John March 11, 2014 at 12:31 PM
Dale, people are not driving while stoned because they purchased pot from one of these stores. You have to take it home to smoke it. Not to mention, how many accidents are caused from stoned drivers? I bet fewer than sober drivers or those on prescription drugs, and we all know, more than drunk drivers where they drink at a bar and then get in the car.
Merriam Webster March 11, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Pot proponents also seem to miss the point of Feuer's crackdown. It will only be on ILLEGAL pot dispensaries. You'll still be able to get your pot from the legal pot shops, which are plentiful in this town. Surely, you can't object to that!
John Mekrut March 11, 2014 at 02:50 PM
This is about proliferation and concentration. Prop D was intended to put some limits on that. I have nothing against marijuana or the industry, I just would prefer more diversity of retailers. Studio City has way-y-y more than it's share of the business. The responsibility resides with unscrupulous landlords who are knowingly renting to illegal businesses. I don't think realtors should be the only ones held accountable, they're hired agents for the landlord. That's who gets the rent check. It's ultimately their responsibility to know who their tenants are and what they do in their building.
Lisa Sarkin March 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Landlords will be a major part of the crackdown.

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