LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County sheriff has escalated his war of words against California medical marijuana dispensaries, saying as many as 97 percent operate as criminal enterprises.

Some of the pot shops get marijuana from Mexican drug cartels, and most dole out pot to people with no medical need for it, Sheriff Lee Baca said. “Millions of dollars are being made for profit, and it’s all illegal,” the sheriff said.

Baca presented no evidence to support his claim.

Critics said his claims about the dispensaries were politically motivated and untrue.

“When they run out of scare tactics, they come out with stuff like this,” said Michael Backes, a board member of the Cornerstone Research Collective, which provides marijuana to patients in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles.