A lot of people get excited about the prospect of entering the medical cannabis business in Los Angeles but do not take the time to make sure they are following all regulations and laws prior to investing any money into their new business.
While many people act like California is essentially the Wild West when it comes to the medical marijuana industry, the truth is that there are lot of local regulations and statewide laws that must be adhered to or the business owner can find him or herself in a lot of trouble. This can include huge fines, having to close up shop, and, the worst-case scenario, being sentenced to time in a state or federal prison.
Medical marijuana business owners must also keep in mind that, even if they are adhering to all of the applicable laws and regulations pertaining to cannabis cultivation and distribution, they must also comply with all standard business laws, including those affecting zoning and land use.
According to a recent news report form the Los Angeles Times, a medical marijuana dispensary has recently been assessed a $1.8 million fine for violation of the city’s zoning ordinance. This constitutes the largest fine against a medical cannabis industry business, and more than double any previous awards in industry history. The trouble began when the Superior Court for the San Diego ruled, among other things, that the dispensary owners should be subject to an injunction law preventing them from operating a dispensary at any area in within city limits.
The city attorney who was interviewed in connection with this news article said the judges and the city are both going to send home the message that a violation of medical cannabis laws or zoning ordinances will not be tolerated, and any violation will result in large fines.
In addition to the roughly $2 billion in civil fines, the dispensary will also have to pay slightly more than $1,000 to the city to cover the cost of the investigation and will also have to pay the litigation expenses for the city, but that amount has yet to be determined.
They city said they will work with business owners as long as they are willing to follow the laws pertaining to running a medical marijuana business in California and the local jurisdiction. However, the city also said that despite this “big win” in terms of the of the historically large civil fine levied, it does not believe there will be much reduction in illegal medical marijuana business, because, as they also believe, these businesses have a desire to operate outside the bounds of the law and do not seem willing to change.
It some ways, it makes sense that any business that was once illegal will still involve a lot of people who were once willing to break laws, there are many law abiding citizens in Los Angeles trying to get involved in the medical cannabis industry, but with the laws changing on a regular basis, it is difficult to know what is legal and what is not without speaking with an experienced medical marijuana lawyer.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
San Diego medical marijuana dispensary hit with $1.8-million fine, December 3, 2015, Los Angeles Times, by Joshua Stewart
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Cannabis Less Dangerous Than Heroin, New DEA Chief Concedes, Aug. 2, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog