Pot shop landlords may soon get billed for cost of killing site’s utilities

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Los Angeles landlords with unlicensed cannabis shops already run the risk of seeing their utilities shut down if caught, but an upcoming proposal at City Council could soon make the cost of illegal pot even steeper.

The proposal, which would bill landlords for the cost of anti-cannabis measures on their property, is the brainchild of Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. In April, she 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.

“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.

Materials used to secure facilities and staff hours for those engaged in shutting down illegal operations are among the bevy of enforcement actions landlords foot the bill for.

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 in March, the same month the City Council unanimously approved cutting water and power to businesses that failed to obtain a cannabis sales license.

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.

“This is a very important and no-nonsense enforcement tool that will be crucial in tackling the spread of illegal cannabis operators in our communities,” Rodriguez said. “Property owners responsible for harboring illegal cannabis businesses must be held accountable for their role in undermining our legal system. They should be held responsible for the full costs of public safety enforcement efforts.”

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