Los Angeles: Since the passage of Proposition 64, the City of Los Angeles has taken an aggressive enforcement stance against unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. The City of Los Angeles, under the Mayor’s Office, created the Cannabis Task Force headed by the Deputy Mayor’s Office of Public Safety (DMOPS). Under DMOPS, a collaborative partnership was established with other departments within the City family.
This partnership consists of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the Department of Water and Power (DWP), the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS), and the Department of Cannabis Regulations (DCR). With the assistance of the City Attorney’s Office and City Council the task force developed alternative progressive enforcement strategies to significantly impact the unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. These progressive strategies focused the City’s efforts on the individuals engaging in the unlicensed activity and the property owners that were allowing the activity to occur.
“The sale of illegal cannabis is a threat to the public’s health and safety. Unlicensed locations may not test their product or have adequate security,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “Customers who patronize illegal shops do so at their peril and undermine businesses who play by the rules. My Office has been at the forefront of taking action to shut down these illegal businesses, with over 300 closed so far as a result of our prosecutions.”
The progressive strategies implemented by the task force are as follows.
1) Notice of Unauthorized Commercial Cannabis Activity
2) Disconnection of Water and Power
3) Criminal search warrant service and investigation
4) A padlock and board up of the premises
Prior to the search warrant service, the LAPD mails a Notice of the Unauthorized Commercial Cannabis Activity to the business occupant and the property owner advising them of the unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. If the activity does not cease, the property owner and business occupant are subject to criminal prosecution. After the Notice of the Unauthorized Commercial Cannabis Activity, the City moves forward with the disconnection of utilities.
The Los Angeles Police Department conducts this enforcement action collaboratively with the Department of Water and Power. If the disconnection does not cause the operator to cease activity, the LAPD authors a criminal search warrant served in conjunction with inspectors from LAFD and LADBS who conduct a criminal code enforcement inspection. If the activity continues after the listed enforcement strategies are employed, LAPD collaborates with LADBS to conduct a padlock and board up the premises.
As a result of the collaborative efforts employed by the task force, the City went from having over 300 unlicensed retail commercial cannabis businesses in 2018 to currently having 87. The task force achieved the following statistics for the 2021 calendar year.
• Search Warrants Served: 317
• Total Arrests: 687
o Felony Arrests: 291
o Misdemeanor Arrests: 396
• Currency Seized: $2,127,111.92
• Guns Recovered: 90
• Cannabis Seized: 257,732.16 pounds
The Los Angeles Police Department remains committed to significantly reducing unlicensed cannabis activity and doing so by playing a crucial role in the Mayor’s Task Force. Along with our City partners, we will continue to aggressively enforce unlicensed activity to enhance the quality of life of all Angelenos.