Los Angeles Cannabis Regulator Wants City to Adopt Rules to Shut Down Illegal Cannabis Businesses

The city of Los Angeles wants to shutter all unlicensed cannabis businesses. The Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) submitted a memo to the City Council on December 27, 2018 recommending certain measures to combat the hundreds of unlicensed cannabis businesses. The DCR approved these enforcement strategies during its November 29, 2018 meeting.

The DCR has recommended that the Los Angeles City Council adopt regulations to permit city officials to:

  • Cut off utility and power services to illegal cannabis businesses;

  • Bring enforcement actions against employees of unlicensed cannabis businesses;

  • Barricade, lock, or fence unlicensed businesses that fail to comply with a cease and desist orders

  • Permit Building and Safety Inspectors to perform non-criminal enforcement of illegal cannabis businesses;

  • Require licensed businesses to display a placard so that the public can identify a licensed cannabis business;

  • Force an eviction process by sending a cease and desist order to landlords; and

  • Notify business partners, creditors, banks etc. that the cannabis business is illegal.

The recommendations are the result of the City Council’s request in July 2018 for the city’s agencies to draft a report on enforcement operations including cannabis enforcement data and cost of operations. The report dated November 9, 2018 indicated that the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) executed 143 search warrants on unlicensed businesses, and made 435 arrests over the past year. The LAPD also confiscated 67 firearms, over $600,000 in money and 34,852 pounds of cannabis. The arrests did little to stop the reopening of the unlicensed businesses. The LAPD indicated that additional enforcement efforts are needed as the misdemeanor charges for most violations is not adequate.

The recommendations define the jurisdictional responsibility in Los Angeles for enforcing cannabis licensing requirements. The LAPD is responsible for significant criminal activity or complaints. The DCR is responsible for developing enforcement strategies that will close unlicensed cannabis businesses.