LOS ANGELES (FOX 11 / CNS) - City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Friday that his office, in coordination with the Los Angeles Police Department, has filed 120 criminal cases against 515 defendants associated with 105 illegal commercial cannabis locations across the city.
"Los Angeles voters wanted common-sense rules to regulate recreational marijuana so public safety is protected in our neighborhoods,'' Feuer said. "Our message is clear -- if you are operating an illegal cannabis business you will be held accountable.''
Since January, all businesses conducting commercial cannabis activity in Los Angeles are required to be licensed by both the state of California and the city. The new regulations follow the passage in recent years of state laws allowing recreational cannabis use and cannabis sales in the State of California.
Under newly adopted city guidelines, commercial cannabis activity is prohibited in certain designated zones or near sensitive sites including schools.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said police "will continue to work in support of the entire city family to ensure the responsible and lawful commercial sales of cannabis in Los Angeles.''
Moore also warned that illegal shops may be selling products that have not been legally tested and could be laced with dangerous substances.
"The price difference for a consumer who goes into a licensed establishment, versus an unlicensed establishment, can be their life, plain and simple,'' Moore said. "The cannabis, or what is represented to be cannabis at unlicensed locations, many times is laced with all kinds of substances, including fentanyl.''
The City Attorney's Marijuana Enforcement Unit worked with police to identify the locations and individuals that were charged. The filings primarily affect commercial locations but also include grow sites, extraction labs, and delivery services distributed geographically by council district, officials said.
All defendants face misdemeanor charges for violations of the Los Angeles Municipal Code regarding unlicensed commercial cannabis activity punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Feuer's office said 23 locations of alleged illegal activity have been closed since the police investigations and criminal filings commenced. The city attorney said he will continue to work closely with the LAPD and the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation to identify and prosecute locations believed to be operating without a license.
"The Department of Cannabis Regulation commends the city attorney and the LAPD for their successful efforts and continued dedication to identifying and prosecuting unlawful cannabis activity within the city,'' said Cat Packer, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation. "We all encourage residents to help in this effort by reporting questionable cannabis activity in their communities through the city's online complaint portal.''
Packer said there are 163 business currently operating legally in the city. Moore said there are hundreds believed to be still operating illegally.
Additional information on cannabis regulations, including how to get licensed and submitting a complaint about unlicensed commercial cannabis activity, can be found at the city's cannabis regulation website at http://cannabis.lacity.org/.