LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Dozens of medical marijuana despensaries in Southern California were fighting to stay open Wednesday after a series of actions by federal drug enforcement agents.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports 71 illegal marijuana stores in Los Angeles and Huntington Park were targeted even as the local battle continues over whether dispensaries can remain open.
DEA agents raided three locations, filed notices of asset forfeiture, and sent out 67 letters to pot shop operators or property owners including Together for Change Collective, House of Kush, and ER Collective.
The lawsuits filed this week in coordination with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office marked a total of 19 asset forfeiture complaints against properties housing illegal marijuana operations in the district.
U.S. Attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek said the timing of the action was unrelated to an ongoing fight in which dispensary owners have qualified a ballot measure in March to repeal a city ban on pot shops which could affect up to 1,000 businesses.
“Part of the problem with Los Angeles is there’s so many stores there, we couldn’t bite off all of the city at once,” said Mrozek.
The Los Angeles Police Department also assisted with the crackdown that mirrored similar enforcement actions over the past year across the seven-county Central District of California.
“As I’ve said before, in Los Angeles some medical marijuana clinics have been taken over by illegal for-profit businesses that sell recreational marijuana to healthy young adults and attract crime,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck in a statement. “These stores are a source of criminal activity because of the product they sell and large amounts of cash they have on hand. The LAPD will continue to work with our federal partners to remove these threats from our communities.”