Los Angeles County is cracking down on marijuana dispensaries and their landlords. If a recent lawsuit is any indication, Los Angeles County is now employing a different strategy in its ongoing efforts to eradicate medical marijuana dispensaries from unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. In addition to targeting people who operate dispensaries on their properties, the county is now going after anyone who leases their property for that purpose. That means even if you are a landlord in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles who has leased space to a marijuana dispensary, then the County may be coming after you for big money. Here’s a closer look at what’s going on.
The County is suing landlord under Section 22.66.020 of the Los Angeles County Code, which prohibits the “establishment, maintenance, and/or operation of any cannabis business or activity in all zones within the unincorporated areas of the County of Los Angeles.” Section 22. 66.030 of the County Code also prohibits, “renting, leasing, and/or otherwise permitting the use of any property for cannabis business or activity.” Other provisions of the County Code also make it a public nuisance to rent, lease or otherwise allow a property to be used for cannabis business or activity. The County is also suing that it is a private nuisance under County Code section 1.23.010 et seq. and 22.60.350.
The County is also suing unlicensed dispensaries and landlords alike under California Business & Professions Code section 17200 for unlawful business practices. What that amounts to is the County of Los Angeles seeking up to $2,500 per day each day that an unlicensed marijuana dispensary was owned or operated out of the property. That can be a huge burden for a landlord who simply leases space since the landlord is not generating $2,500 per day.
Frustrated by the lack of success, county officials formed the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Enforcement Team last year. In 12 months following its inception, it identified more than 100 illegal dispensaries. Of those, approximately 30 were shut down, legal action was taken against 49, and the rest were investigated. According to a report issued on the topic, there are probably more that are still unidentified.
We have successfully represented clients against the County for this issue. If you have been affected by this issue or want to learn more, contact us to schedule an appointment today.