LOS ANGELES – The haze is lifting in Los Angeles.

Not the city’s infamous smog or the morning fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.

The haze was stoked by the hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries that proliferated in recent years, flooding the fledgling industry with cash and high-grade pot known as “kush.”

Many of those pot shops began closing Monday, as a new ordinance took effect to help the city keep track of the businesses while pushing them toward industrial areas and away from schools and other public gathering places.

Across the city, disgruntled dispensary owners were shutting their doors in fear that they could face civil fines or criminal charges.

City officials believe the new law will slash the number of collectives to somewhere between 70 and 130 while providing stricter guidelines for the ones that remain.

Dan Halbert, who runs Rainforest Collective west of downtown, put a large sign outside his storefront that read, “Hundreds of jobs lost, millions of tax revenues lost, another vacant building in Los Angeles. Drugs back on the street.”

Halbert is part of an ongoing lawsuit to overturn the ordinance. Still, he thought it would be best to shut down until the case gets resolved.

“I didn’t come here to break any laws,” Halbert, 45, said. “We have several thousand patients, who are all very distraught. They don’t know where they are going to go.”

Authorities intended to take a tally of shops then regroup to determine what enforcement should be taken.

“We continue to work with the city attorney’s office on establishing an enforcement strategy,” police Capt. Kevin McCarthy said. “The issue at hand is whether to proceed using a criminal, civil or a combined process on the dispensaries that violate the ordinance.”

Shops that registered before a 2007 moratorium have six months to prove they meet the guidelines and pay an administrative fee of more than $1,000.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.