Shutting down illegal pot shops across Los Angeles has been a constant struggle for the Los Angeles City Council, due in no small part to enforcement’s price tag. Budgetary increases for illegal cannabis enforcement could go from around $3 million this year to around $30 million in the next city budget, Mayor Eric Garcetti said last month.
However, Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez has a plan to cover the expenses. On Friday, she introduced a motion to the City Council asking the City Attorney to draft an ordinance enabling city agencies to assess property owners and businesses for the costs utility disconnection and other efforts against illegal cannabis dispensaries.
“Our taxpayers should not be the ones to bear the costs associated with enforcement and I look forward to bringing this policy citywide to ensure that those engaging in illegal commercial cannabis activity be brought to justice,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, who chairs the City’s Public Safety Committee, noted that property owners are already billed for public safety actions such as brush fire hazard abatement, and said that illegal pot poses the same magnitude of threat to Angelenos.
Nearly two dozen illegally operated cannabis shops have been shut down and more than 20 search warrants have been served in the Northeast San Fernando Valley in the last 12 months.
City Attorney Mike Feuer announced last September that his office had filed 120 criminal cases within a nine-month period against 515 defendants associated with 105 illegal commercial cannabis locations across the city.
Closing illegal pot shops has proven to be a challenge for the city; it often involves an undercover police operation and the use of other significant law enforcement resources.
There are 178 cannabis-related businesses currently operating legally in the city, according to the Department of Cannabis Regulation.