The Los Angeles Times is reporting that 372 medical marijuana shops filed business tax paperwork with the city, proving that there are more medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles that in any other city in the nation.
Our Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers know this is despite heavy fire from the federal government, which is trying to impose its rules on a legal, voter-approved industry in California.
In recent months, federal prosecutors have made arrests and threaten arrests on others simply for following the state’s laws. They have sent threatening letters to landlords, saying they could face sanctions if they rent their space to these legal companies, causing many companies to go out of business.
It’s good to see, however, that these small business owners are fighting the good fight and working hard to make a living, despite the pressures from the Obama administration. Our lawyers believe these legal businesses should be able to continue operating as normal, despite outside opinions.
According to the news article, more dispensaries are still opening, though the 372 number is what is officially on the books with the city. But the article’s author suggests that some companies may be open but may not have filed the proper paperwork with the city. Can you blame them at this point?
City officials estimate there are more like 500 shops in the city limits. The city has spent years trying to shut down illegal shops — or legal shops for that matter. The newspaper reports that the city first attempted to determine how many shops it had in 2005.
The first year, police found four and a year later, 98. Once officials forced dispensaries to register to stay open, the number jumped to 186. Two years ago, officials estimated there were as many as 850.
In March, city voters approved Measure M, which required a 5 percent gross business tax for dispensaries, which is 10 times larger than the next-highest business tax. Officials believe it could raise as much as $10 million in revenue for the city.
In January, city officials are expected to take up the issue of a possible ban on dispensaries. A recent court ruling questions whether the city actually has the power to change public safety regulations, such as a restriction on where the businesses can be located. The court ruling also stopped leaders’ efforts to cap dispensaries at 100 through a lottery system.
A ban wouldn’t stop city officials from collecting the tax from dispensaries that choose to ignore the rules. Who’s on first?
Who can blame these small businesses? They are being threatened at every angle. First, the Feds are trying to threaten them and say the owners could be sent to prison. Then, city officials are trying to get rid of them even though they’re running a legal business.
Most companies are probably willing to pay the tax to stay open, but don’t want to be raided by officials who can easily spot them if they register with the city. This is a tough issue that hopefully can be resolved soon and not linger on.
Medical marijuana is what the people of California have wanted, despite resistance from many in the government. It is legal in California to sell marijuana to those who require it for medical use. That should be the end of the story, but sadly, it’s not. These business owners must continue to fight for their rights.
The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Los Angeles, throughout Orange County and elsewhere throughout Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
More Blog Entries:
Medical Marijuana in Los Angeles Not Cool Enough for Teen Recreational Use: December 1, 2011
Lawsuits Filed Against Feds and Their Attempts to Stop the Medical Marijuana Industry in California: December 1, 2011
372 medical marijuana shops file L.A. business tax paperwork, by John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times