Marijuana

Los Angeles Legalized Pot Sales. Now It May Launch a New War on Weed.

High taxes and slow bureaucracy keeps the black market alive.

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Pot shop sign
Ronen Tivony/ZUMA Press/Newscom

It tells us something about California's hamfisted implementation of the state's new recreational marijuana law that L.A.'s mayor is now talking about spending millions more in police enforcement to fight a marijuana black market that likely wouldn't exist if state regulations weren't so terrible.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he may ask for an increase in police and enforcement funding to shut down all the unlicensed, illegally operating pot shops in the city.

Why would a city that has legalized recreational marijuana consider a potential tenfold jump in police spending—from $3 million to $30 million—aimed at prosecuting marijuana offenders? Because L.A.'s regulations are so difficult to comply with that the city remains full of illegal pot businesses. Local media outlet The Hub notes that while there are 178 legal pot shops in Los Angeles, the city has gone after more than 100 illegally operating shops and the city's attorney has filed criminal charges against more than 500 defendants across a nine-month period.

Two big factors are contributing to this outcome. First, California's legalization came with huge taxation authorities, and the cities that are allowing legal marijuana sales are also heavily taxing the industry in the hopes of raking in revenue. If you buy marijuana legally in Los Angeles, state and local taxes and fees add nearly 35 percent to the cost. Legal marijuana in Los Angeles actually costs more than it does in San Francisco, thanks to a 10 percent local excise tax.

The second factor, seemingly ignored by Garcetti in his call for a crackdown, is that L.A. has done a terrible job setting up the bureaucracy that allows people to get licenses to legally operate. The Los Angeles Times reported in February that people who have tried to open their shops legally have been thwarted by bureaucratic slow-rolling. Many applicants have been waiting for more than a year for permission to open their stores. Some have just given up and gone elsewhere. Others are simply taking advantage of the demand and the city's inability to consistently control the market and operating unlicensed storefronts.

The result? 80 percent of California marijuana sales are happening on the black market rather through legal vendors. Licensed vendors understandably want Garcetti to do something about that, but rather than addressing high taxes and excessive red tape, he's insisting there needs to be even more punishment.

Somehow, with recreational marijuana perfectly legal in Los Angeles, the city is embarking in a new expensive drug war.

NEXT: Federal Judge Rules New York's Dumb 'Gravity Knife' Law Is Unconstitutionally Vague

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  1. I can’t breathe.

    1. YOU GET A DRUG WAR! YOU GET A DRUG WAR! YOU GET A DRUG WAR!

      EVERYBODY GETS A DRUUUUUUUG WAR!

    2. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h ? $72h?how? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance? on something new? after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

      Heres what I’ve been doing? ,,,

      CLICK HERE?? http://www.AproCoin.Com

  2. Job opening!

    DEA searching for contractor to burn 1,000 pounds of marijuana per hour

    For eight hours a day, the chosen applicant will have to oversee the burning of 1,000 pounds of weed per hour.

    Surely this could be used to generate some power or do some useful work.

    1. >>>useful work

      every. Simpsons. ever.

  3. >>>Somehow, with recreational marijuana perfectly legal in Los Angeles, the city is embarking in a new expensive drug war.

    yeah somehow …

  4. There was an old joke about how Air Force planes keep getting more expensive while fewer are bought; eventually they will buy one plane which will cost eleventy billion dollars.

    Same here. There will be fewer and fewer reasons to bust potheads while the cost keeps rising; eventually there will be one (volunteer?) designated illegal head shop which will cost eleventy billion dollars to find and prosecute.

  5. Law enforcement has never been used so nobly: against the chosen few’s competition.

  6. So, it’s not really legal then, is it?

  7. The Los Angeles Times reported in February that people who have tried to open their shops legally have been thwarted by bureaucratic slow-rolling.

    Emphasis added. BONGG!!

    1. Yes, all the paperwork got everyone into a twist.

      The office closes at 4:20 .

  8. California is run by fucking losers.

  9. Obviously the government is going to fight a lot harder to protect their income via taxes

  10. Only in California. I gotta get outta here…

  11. I used to warn people who said legalize and tax (liberals) that the taxing would lead to a new type of drug war.

    My recommendation? “No more taxed than tomatoes.”

    You see that phrase repeated sometimes in legalization circles.

    1. tomatoes shouldn’t be taxed either

  12. many California towns are keeping those icky marijuana dispensaries out of their jurisdiction by refusing to grant business licenses. so if you don’t want to drive an hour, it’s much more convenient to just use your old supplier

  13. I was wondering why everyone was flooding to Colorado to get pot still. The regulations here are pretty bad as well, But I guessed some state are just out to show how bad they are at regulating things.

  14. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h ? $72h?how? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance? on something new? after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

    Heres what I’ve been doing? ,,,

    CLICK HERE?? http://www.TheproCoin.Com

  15. I have read a lot of articles, but for your article, it left me a deep impression, thank you for sharing.
    wings io

  16. And this surprises you? It’s exactly what we expect from a state sponsored restricted market. And it’s exactly what’s going to happen when pot is “legalized” in New Jersey as well. Only New Jersey wants to tax pot by weight, not value, so the state’s take will stay the same even if the price drops.

  17. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    >>>>>>>>>> http://www.GeoSalary.com

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