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Los Angeles city prosecutor targets medical marijuana dispensaries

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Photograph by Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Organica Collective owner Jeff Joseph  is taken into custody by LAPD undercover officers after a raid by federal agents and Los Angeles police officers at his marijuana dispensary.



The Los Angeles city attorney today escalated his bid to regain control over the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries, filing suit against three and sending letters to 18 to try to force them to stop selling the drug, alleging the outlets have repeatedly violated state law.

City Atty. Carmen Trutanich had pledged to take aggressive action to shut down illegal dispensaries. Hundreds of stores have opened in Los Angeles while the City Council debated an ordinance to regulate them. The council passed the law, but it still has not taken effect.

Trutanich launched his campaign with a single lawsuit against an Eagle Rock dispensary called Hemp Factory V. He recently won an injunction to force it to stop selling marijuana in a ruling that suggests he could see a similar result in the three new lawsuits. The judge in the case agreed with Trutanich that state law does not authorize dispensaries to sell the drug.

Today’s suits were filed against Organica, a dispensary that straddles Culver City and Los Angeles, and two locations of Holistic Caregivers in South Los Angeles.

Based on allegations of illegal activity that stem from undercover police buys, the city attorney’s office also sent letters to 18 landlords to warn them that the dispensaries renting their property are violating state and local drug laws and that the landlords could face a lawsuit.

The letters give the property owners 30 days to respond.

Organica, which was raided by police and federal agents Thursday, has been raided twice before. Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley had cited the dispensary as one he was considering filing charges against, but no charges have been filed. The owner, Jeff Joseph, closed the store after the second raid, but recently reopened. He could not be reached for comment, and the city attorney’s office said he was the subject of an arrest warrant for sales of marijuana.

The city attorney’s office said people who were stopped near Organica admitted picking up large quantities of marijuana from the dispensary to deliver to other dispensaries.

The two Holistic Caregivers stores were among seven owned by Virgil Grant that were the target of a multi-agency investigation. The city attorney’s office said law enforcement officers made undercover buys and found large quantities of marijuana products. Grant was convicted last year of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.

-- John Hoeffel

 
Comments () | Archives (72)

If anyone is listening, add me and EVERYONE I KNOW to the list that wants marijuana legalized and not a DIME of our taxes spent on pursuing these purveyors. Please listen, Trutanich.

Ironically, this report appears on the same day as the news article entitled "UC studies find promise in medical marijuana."
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-medical-marijuana18-2010feb18,0,1023346.story
I hope that Trutanich's actions are appealed.

The entire financial system of the US would have "melted down" without $1 trillion in bailout money by the taxpayer. And nobody goes to prison, loses their job, or even has to forego bonuses. But we bring the hammer down on all those evil marijuana users.

Well I guess all the citizens of this fair city can unlock their doors and raise their windows when they go to bed this evening because it would seem crime has been brought under control and they have turned their focus to these evil medical marijuana dispenseries,That's right they have all the crime under control Alcohol,Cigarettes,Fire breathing dragons known as chemical plants are killing people by the droves but the greatest need is to get this runaway marijuana problem under control (LAUGHABLE)And you wonder why there is a budget problem (BAD MANAGEMENT)

What's killing California is run away spending. We voted to legalize pot for medical purposes... not send people to jail over it... Trutanich and his hit squad are enemies of every voter in CA as they thwart the people's will and spend their budget to do so. The bottom line is they have NOTHING else to do... with the crime rate dropping as they swear it is, we need to lay off people in their department that have nothing better today than wage war against american citizens. I will VOTE NO on every budget increase for cops, for DAs, and for any kind of crime reduction until someone explains to this guy what a crime is.

Losers, go bust some real criminals. Thanks for keeping the streets a dangerous place. 1937 indeed.

Send Trutanich back to prohibition where he belongs.
This is really ridiculous, and an embarrassment to a city so incredibly deep in debt. Do we really need to spend time doing this??

Didnt i just read that the city is laying off 3000 workers due to lack of taxes ? Now the city is busting business that generates taxes ? What kind of logic is that ? Those two cops might get pink slips because there is not enough revenue to pay their 80k/yr. salary and lifetime pension.

I'm ashamed to say I voted for this joker Trutanich. Well never again.

And this happens on the same day that the City Council announces 4000 more city layoffs..

A perfect example of the incompetence of the elected officials of this city

Ridiculous! Carmen is going to make this city go even further into debt as Los Angeles has to defend itself from the inevitable lawsuits challenging his bullying and misguided ways. This industry needs regulation, but not this ham-fisted Boss Hogg-type.

Tax this stuff! Bring in some money for the city! Crime is way down in this city and I firmly believe it's in no small debt to the availability of cannabis for people who need and want it.

Carmen Trutanich is a on a "HOLLY CRUSADE" this is unacceptable. The little thug needs to be taken down a notch and reminded just WHO HE WORKS FOR!!!

The Right wing "Good Christians" want to send EVERYBODY that's not like them to prison!!!

RECALL TRUTANICH!!!!

Great, while thousands of important jobs are being cut, we still have the money to pay under-cover cops to bust marijuana sales? GIVE ME A BREAK! http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-medical-marijuana18-2010feb18,0,1023346.story

Let's start listening to those who study the medicine instead of politicians with alterior motives. You think these politicians really have our health at the center of all this? If so then why can't they find a way to properly treat mentally ill people or take the 50,000 homeless in L.A. off the street. The richest nation in the world has the most homeless of any 1st world nation. Sad

well it does not make sense if there are more dispensaries than LIQUOR STORES which actually has to have a ABC LIQUOR license!!!! THINK PEOPLE THINK thats why I left LA

When is the War on this beneficial plant going to end!?!?!?!?!

What in the world is the city prosecutor and the police thinking? Go after REAL criminals, not dispensary owners/staff. THIS is where our tax dollars are going towards? What a waste. But, I guess it's easier to bust them than real criminals.... Shame on them ALL! And, when election time comes, we'll remember to vote them out of office. Revolution is in the air...

Prop 215 is an initiative of the people of California, and part of it says...

"To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana."

Affordable in this context implies the marijuana would be bought and sold. How else do you explain it? The fact remains that in good times and bad 50% of the police, DA and court budget is devoted to the war on drugs. There is always money because we pay for it and this is getting to be a burden for tax payers. Free the weed.

I'm not crying for this guy. Sounds like he was wholesaling to other collectives, which is NOT covered under Prop. 215 et al.

The intent of the law is to allow medical users to band together to help each other, and to distribute among themselves at cost. That is NOT what is happening in the vast majority of dispensaries in LA. The vast majority of sales is to recreational users, period. Many of these people aren't members of the collective per se, they just show up with their card and anonymously buy. This sort of merchandising is NOT covered by state law.

How do I know? Dozens of my friends are at all levels of this business, from growing, grooming and transporting, to testing, selling, and consuming. Sellers then launder their monies in other businesses.

I don't care what people do, as long as I don't have to subsidize it. But you're plain wrong if you think weed has no bad side effects. It lowers your testosterone, which dims your focus and drive. Smoke enough, and it WILL damage your lungs and gums, just like smoking. I know a ton of pot-head DJ's whose teeth look just awful - all dead & gray.

And we all know people who have driven high.

And I can name a few of my friends who were KILLED over it - for money.

To me, people who smoke weed are like dog owners. Some are responsible, others are not. But the bad ones will make choices that affect the people around them.

we now know who to vote out and we will make is clear that the people of this state of ca are not going to be bullied by Trutanich.vote him out or better yet its recall time.we need to hold a rally lets get it together people.

KE

My above statement about prop 215 and the distribution of marijuana stands as is. Government is suppose to encourage the distribution. You say the father of prop 215 never envisioned merchandising marijuana. I say he opened the SF buyers club and became the first cannabis retailer in the nation.

All the law requires is a recommendation from a physician. Sounds reasonable to me. As far as trading it back and forth, no that's not safe access for someone alone and dying. That's the culture of marijuana that's flourished for most but not all. Notice the distribution is for all patients, even if they can't trade or have friends that can provide it.

80% of tobacco smokers quite smoking. None were jailed. If it's a health issue why are cops handling it?

Of course some things are dangerous, some people are irresponsible, and some people smoke medical marijuana recreationally.... but the point is SENDING PEOPLE TO PRISON BECAUSE OF MARIJUANA DOESN'T SOLVE ANYTHING.
People like to smoke weed. People have been doing it for thousands of years, and people will continue smoking, clearly, regardless of the barbaric laws that are currently in place.
SO WHAT if I choose to smoke cannabis?? Are you telling me I'm not sick enough to earn the right to consume an herb that I enjoy? And if I do you'll lock me in a cage?
How do any of you justify this????

laurinn and pete d; i dont know where you get your statistics, but you are both dead wrong..$10,000 a day?? yeah right!! and what robberies?? i have heard of 2, out of 1000 businesses in over 10 years..how many liquor stores have been robbed?? obviously you guys are anti-marijuana, but we passed a law allowing it for ANY ILLNESS FOR WHICH MARIJUANA MIGHT PROVIDE RELIEF. Why does a city attorney get the right to deny us our legal rights??

Haha...a state that can barely maintain its solvency contains a city that struggles with PROFOUND criminal issues. And that city's prosecutor chooses to make a name for himself by going after pot dealers who pay their landlords on-time, employ citizens of this struggling city, and sell only to those who are legally empowered to purchase their product.

What state law is this charlatan with a law degree talking about? And why is this even an issue now? I understand the city recently passed an ordinance banning dispensaries within a certain distance of schools; that's fine. The back-and-forth should have ended with a few laws to ensure that children don't walk out their doors and witness the sale of marijuana...this is the same logic behind limiting the number and location of alcohol vendors. Even if the number of dispensaries explodes to 1,000,000 within the city, the government has no case to make against a string of free-market enterprises empowered by both the California legislature in 2003 and the people of California in 1996.

The city has no mandate to do anything past that which it has already done. How do we get this meddling buffoon with a girl's name out of office again?

This is horrible, but I saw this coming. I feel bad for all the people who have to shut down their businesses. This is just a poor way to solve this problem. For more debate on this and other marijuana topics, check out my website.

There's one at every block here on ventura blvd, enough with the creepy green crosses with shady owners, close them all!

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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