Authorities in Los Angeles continue cracking down on unlicensed marijuana businesses. The effort to weed out illegal business activities began picking up momentum earlier this year. And now, the crackdown has resulted in more than 500 criminal charges.
Numerous Unlicensed Marijuana Businesses in LA
Today, law enforcement authorities in LA announced the full extent of their efforts to decrease the number of unlicensed marijuana businesses in the city.
Since May, the city has busted 150 businesses for operating without proper licensing or for other forms of illegal activity. As a result, authorities are charging 515 people for their participation in these illegal cannabis businesses. All told, the city has filed 120 criminal cases.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the illegal businesses have run the gamut, including everything from illegal or unlicensed grow sites to extraction labs, retail stores, and home delivery services.
Courts have been hearing cases since May. Authorities said they expect to continue hearing cases through the end of October.
Everyone caught in the sweep has been charged with unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. This charge can come with as much as six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
To date, there have reportedly been 21 people who have pleaded guilty or no contest to misdemeanor charges or infractions. One person was sent to a diversionary program, and there are still 10 people with outstanding warrants. Additionally, 11 cases were reportedly dismissed.
LA’s Ongoing Crackdown
The city of Los Angeles has been focusing on identifying and eliminating unlicensed or illegal marijuana businesses. In many cases, this includes cannabis shops that simply do not have proper licensing to operate.
Similarly, this also includes businesses that are not fully complying with state and local regulations. This aspect of California’s legal cannabis industry has become increasingly important following a significant legislative overhaul earlier this summer.
Further, authorities have also cracked down on businesses that are not meeting security requirements. And in some cases, businesses have been cited or shut down for operating too close to schools or other restricted zones.
One way or another, authorities said the crackdown is ultimately aimed at protecting cannabis businesses that are following laws and regulations.
Legal Weed in California
It’s been a big year for legal weed in California. Most importantly, 2018 was the launch of full recreational retail cannabis sales throughout the state.
Then, over the summer, lawmakers introduced a number of new rules and regulations. The changes introduced stricter laws on everything from packaging and labeling to store displays and product tracking protocols.
The changes were met with some controversy. In particular, many business owners were worried that they would not be able to sell all their inventory before the new laws went into effect. To avoid this, many shops in the state began selling products at huge discounts.
Despite these efforts, the new regulations forced dispensaries to dispose of tons of product that did not meet the new set of retail requirements. In fact, reports showed that there was somewhere around $350 million worth of weed destroyed in the wake of California’s new laws.