Drug War

L.A. Pot Stores Just Must Be Criminal, L.A. Weekly Snorts

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The L.A. Weekly, which played a key role in ginning up political pressure to "do something" about the utter non-crisis of over the counter medical marijuana in Los Angeles, asserts through assertion that there must be weed from Mexican drug cartels filling these stores, because, well…come on man!

It's a notion that's hard to believe: Mexican cartels don't operate grows in the National Forests right here in California? They don't run area grow houses? Not an ounce of Mexican weed ends up in your local pot shop? Really?

When I asked Capt. Kevin McCarthy, the Los Angeles Police Department's commanding officer for gangs and narcotics, about this cartel/dispensary link for my May 2010 Reason magazine cover feature on the saga of L.A.'s anti-pot store mania, he too believed it must be true. He also admitted that proving it would be "labor intensive to do, and we don't have resources to do it."

The Weekly has been nosing around the local pot scene with hostility for years now…surely they can do better in providing strong evidence for this accusation. (Unless, just maybe, there isn't a whole lot of truth to it.)

Last week, reporting on the latest iteration of L.A.'s ever-changing (nowadays, in response to court actions) regs on medical pot stores that will reduce them to 100, the Weekly shed crocodile tears over how that "seems like a small amount of dispensaries for a city that has become the pot shop capital of the world." Yup. Which is why all the Weekly's agitation for the City Council to do something about them, and painting them as facilitating criminal recreational use and Mexican drug cartels, was the very opposite of public service journalism.

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  1. Xenophobic and Racist. ALL the dispensary marijuana is grown by criminals. What makes Mexican criminals worse than any other kind?

  2. Who would go through all the hassles and expenses of obtaining semi-legal weed in California just to buy overpriced Mexican shwag? And it seems the economics of this highly regulated niche market would favor a very local source of product.

    1. That’s basically my thought too. Dispensaries are just selling better stuff than you can grow in a guerrilla setup in the Sequoia forest. The market has spoken, and it wants that indoor dank.

      1. It seems likely that there are Mexican gangs growing some of that indoor dank as well. But so what? That’s not a problem of the pot stores. That is a problem with the production system remaining questionably legal.

  3. Wasn’t there a time when alt-weeklies were bastions of liberal investigative reporting in response to the Korporate Konglomerate dailies? Plus they are generally owned by the Village Voice.

    When they hell did the LA Weekly get so old?

    1. When they hell did the LA Weekly get so old?

      Around the time that Apple thought it had a coup on its hand when it offered Beatles songs on iTunes.

      1. Just wait until AC/DC!

    2. Was thinking the same thing. Isn’t the whole point of an alt-weekly to be, you know, anti-establishment? To see the LA Weekly swing pro-Drug War kind of exposes them as Democratic-Party shills in my book.

  4. L.A. Pot Stores Just Must Be Criminal

    Well, according to federal law….if you cotton to that sort of nonsense.

  5. And we thought this L.A. pot dispensary scene was the nail in the coffin for marijuana prohibition.

  6. He also admitted that proving it would be “labor intensive to do, and we don’t have resources to do it.”

    I read this as, “We don’t give fuck all about it.”

      1. Yeah Paul, I read it as more like “we don’t need proof to arrest them because it would take too much work to prove.”

  7. The paper may be hostile to the dispensaries, but I think that you are underestimating the intelligence of the Mexican cartels if: a) you think they grow schwag in the National Forests; and b) you imagine they have not figured out how to get some kind of piece of the 215 cannabis market.

    1. If we’re talking about any tiny amount reaching the dispensaries over the course of the last decade or so, then yeah of course that’s happened. The question is how significant it is.

      I don’t think the dispensaries are selling much Mexican stuff, and I don’t think cartels view that as a major revenue source. For one, yes they pretty much do grow schwag, at least compared to the indoor stuff that fills the shelves at your average dispensary. Their outdoor will get people high of course, but it’s no Nuggetry OG or Super Silver Haze. The dispensary market has clearly skewed toward extremely high-end product.

      Besides, cultivation and supply for these shops is in sort of a legal limbo. It’s not exactly difficult in Cali to register as a caregiver for a bunch of different people and claim to legally be growing a very large number of plants. So it’s not like there are tremendous barriers in the supply chain that the cartels can circumvent — the sort of back-door protectionism they depend on to make real money.

      Have illegal immigrants connected to cartels ever sold pot to dispensaries? Obviously. That doesn’t really mean anything though.

  8. Hi:

    I just want to clarify: I never stated that pot shops in L.A. “must be criminal.”

    I think out-of-compliance with city law and criminal are two different issues.

    Many authorities have said National Forest grows and grow houses have gang and organized crime ties, particularly to the Mexican Mafia. Ditto RAND, which (off the top of the head) noted the ties in a study last year and stated that full legalization would not really change much as far as that’s concerned.

    There certainly was a pot-shop crisis in L.A: Ask the residents of Eagle Rock and South Robertson and other communities where they were more common than 7-11s.

    Don’t blame the messenger. Personally, I’m not that opposed to pot or medical marijuana. But my job is to report the facts.

    This piece casts doubt but does little to dispel what has been reported.

    Be Reason-able.

    -Dennis

    1. Still though, it’s never a good thing to uncritically quote “authorities” when it comes to marijuana stats and observations — governments of all sizes have a lot invested in maintaining the lie of marijuana prohibition. I’d like to hear from dispensary proprietors and medicinal users as well whenever issues like this are discussed.

      Also — a pot shop crisis? Really? That’s a bit extreme, no? Or does somebody, for once, actually have some real data showing that marijuana dispensaries present any sorts of problems not commonly found in other businesses? A bunch of bitching PTA members doesn’t mean much. Where are the supposed increases in “crime” associated with dispensaries? I’m guessing that police departments would enthusiastically present any credible evidence that dispensaries hurt communities, yet their silence is deafening. Are there any real numbers that come even close to making this connection everyone seems so ready to infer?

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