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New LAPD team's aggressive war on illegal marijuana dispensaries

July 5, 2010 |  1:27 pm

Clearing away the pot stores

A new Los Angeles Police Department team is spearheading an aggressive push to shut down dispensaries that are illegal under a city ordinance that took effect four weeks ago.

"This is a high priority for the City Council and a high priority for the city attorney, so it's a high priority for us," said Capt. Kevin McCarthy, head of the Gang and Narcotics Division.

The ordinance allowed dispensaries that registered with the city in 2007, when it adopted a moratorium on new pot shops, to remain open. The rest, which opened despite that ban, had to close by June 7. City officials said  there were more than 400 illegal dispensaries, but they thought most had since closed.

Asha Greenberg, an assistant city attorney who was overseeing the enforcement efforts, said she believed that  20 to 30 stores still might be defying the ordinance. "It's also somewhat of a moving target," she said, because shops "open up and then close, we hear about places that have cut down on their hours and some places that have now turned into delivery services, so it runs the gamut of these places trying to get around the ordinance."

In Eagle Rock, which emerged as the epicenter of the neighborhood activism against the pot-shop explosion, most of the unauthorized outlets that once ringed the area appeared to have closed.

On Colorado Boulevard, the shades were drawn at ABC Caregivers, and only the outline of the letters CNC remained on the glass door at CN Collective on West Broadway. The building on York Boulevard that had been Northeast Collective was being refurbished by a hypnotist who planned to open a business.

Several dispensaries, among scores that have sued the city to challenge the ordinance, hope to win a court order that will allow them to reopen. At the House of Kush on Colorado Boulevard, a printed sign said: "We are closed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Read Joel Rubin and John Hoeffel's article "Clearing Away the Pot Stores, One Raid at a Time."

Photo: An LAPD officer arrests Larry Lo, operator of the Colorado Collective marijuana dispensary in Eagle Rock, on June 24, 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times