21 Aug 2014
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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, Police Announce New Campaign to Crack Down on Illegal Medical Pot Dispensaries

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 Realtorsto 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

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