As part of its efforts to crack down on hundreds of illegal marijuana businesses in the city, the Los Angeles Police Department has assisted other departments over the last two weeks in shutting off the utilities of 12 shops while also continuing to execute search warrants, arrests and seizures, a City Council committee was told Monday.
The City Council recently approved a new policy of shutting off the utilities of illegal pot shops, and Detective Vito Ceccia of the LAPD’s Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Division told the Budget and Finance Committee that the department began executing the policy several weeks ago on a bureau-by-bureau basis.
Starting in the Valley Bureau, the LAPD has identified 34 business for utility shutoff and 12 have had the power and water cut, Ceccia said. In 2019, the LAPD has also executed 45 search warrants, made 107 arrests, and seized 28 firearms, $155,000 in cash and 80,000 pounds of cannabis, he added.
The city has also been exploring forming a task force of personnel from the LAPD and other departments to focus on closing illegal shops. Cat Packer, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation, said there have been informal meetings over the last year but that the task force or “working group” has not yet been formalized.
The problem of illegal pot shops has been a frequent topic discussed by city leaders over the last few months.
Huge increases should be included in the next city budget for enforcement of illegal pot shops, Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week.
“Getting both the illegal market, and the illegal operators who aren’t the black market but the illegal places that open up in a strip mall or something, to get those under control has to be job No. 1. So we’re looking in this year’s budget in putting a serious amount of money into the enforcement side because we have to reward the good actors,” Garcetti said.
Speaking at a news conference where he took questions on numerous topics, Garcetti said he wasn’t sure of the exact numbers, but estimated the increase for illegal cannabis enforcement would go from around $3 million this fiscal year to around $30 million.
Since the beginning of 2018, all businesses conducting commercial cannabis activity in Los Angeles are required to be licensed by both the state and city. A total of 181 businesses have been given permission to operate in the city, but hundreds without the proper licenses are believed to be operating.
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