In business, use of the “best practices” concept – managing based on trial and error and by seeing what’s worked well for others – is the biggest bellwether for success. It’s an approach that law enforcement latched onto more than most other aspects of government.

This background is why it’s been frustrating to watch the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department play Whac-A-Mole for so long with illegal marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county and why it’s frustrating now to hear the department tout as new a tactic it employed in the past month – going after the landlords who rent to dispensary owners – after months and months of raids that left unlicensed operators resuming operations within days or even hours. The idea that law enforcement should focus on landlords – whose identities can’t be hidden – instead of dispensary owners – whose identities are relatively easy to hide – isn’t new at all. Beginning in April 2016, it was a key to the city of San Diego’s successful crackdown on illegal pot shops. It could have helped the county early on, too.

Here’s hoping the county crackdown is not just an election season gesture by Sheriff Bill Gore. Both the taxed, regulated pot shops allowed by California’s 2016 legalization referendum and the communities plagued with illegal pot dispensaries would benefit if the landlords of illegal stores are warned regularly that they will face fines or worse unless they boot their tenants.


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