Ordinance against Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries could aid illegal drug trade

An opinion piece in the Huffington Post suggests the city’s attempt to force the closure of three-quarters of all marijuana dispensaries may have triggered a trio of deadly shootings inside legally operating marijuana collectives.

The piece suggests the city may have done little more than create a manageable target of the remaining businesses for gangs and the illegal drug trade.

Our Los Angeles marijuana dispensary attorneys have grave concerns — both for the 400 dispensaries being targeted for closure and for the 100 or so collectives that will be permitted to remain open. We even have some concern for the City of Los Angeles, which we believe could ultimately be held financially responsible for the harm caused to legitimate business owners even as it denies itself millions of dollars in needed tax revenue from marijuana collectives.

We have reported on our Marijuana Lawyer Blog the moves being made by other cities to increase tax revenue even as the Los Angeles law seeks to close the majority of its collectives. In the wake of that law, which took effect June 7, a series of deadly shootings have occurred inside L.A. marijuana dispensaries.

“On a superficial level, closing dispensaries must have seemed as simple as repairing a pothole or cleaning graffiti off a building; just a little urban blight removal,” Mark Haskell Smith writes in the Huffington Post. “But dig a little deeper, peel a layer off the onion, and this “no brainer” has some far reaching and deadly consequences.”

Never mind that the city is not very good at either filling potholes or removing graffiti. Its enforcement of the new ordinance has been rife with problems, including a series of clerical errors involving which legal businesses should be targeted for closure and which legal businesses are allowed to remain open.

Smith writes that by targeting the dispensaries that are permitted to remain open, gangs and drug organizations could seek to regain control of the marijuana trade in Southern California.

The California Board of Equalization reports between $50 and $100 million in taxes are collected each year from medical marijuana dispensaries — the difficulty in arriving at a more concrete number has to do with the fact that collectives can file taxes under the “retail,” “pharmacy” or “other” category. That puts the market for legal marijuana at more than $1 billion a year. Add in the illegal market, and you’ve got a $3 billion industry in Los Angeles alone.

The city did part of the work by passing an ordinance that arbitrarily forces the closure of 3 of every 4 legally operating marijuana dispensaries. Now the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office reports the string of assassinations at dispensaries could be drug cartel related.

As the Huffington Post points out: Al Capone famously supported prohibition because he made millions selling illegal liquor.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP is a law firm dedicated to the rights of medical marijuana patients, collectives and growers and has built a reputation for high-powered, aggressive legal representation of the medical marijuana industry in Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.