In the latest effort to crack down on the commercial marijuana industry in California, Federal authorities sent out warning letters today to the 103 illegal dispensaries across Los Angeles County, including all known locations in Long Beach.
Of the 103 businesses in question, 28 operate in the city of Long Beach; in addition, Federal prosecutors also targeted three locations in Pearlblossom, one in Lancaster and 71 in the city of Los Angeles. Two of the Long Beach-based businesses--the Healing Tree Holistic Association located at 3751 E. Anaheim and the Naples Wellness Center. located at 570 E. Second--are the subject of asset forfeiture lawsuits filed today in Los Angeles Federal court, according to officials.
The forfeiture complaints allege that the owners of the properties knowingly allowed commercial marijuana store fronts, and in one case, a grow operation to function on the properties. The two dispensaries have already been subjected to numerous search warrants and citations over the past 15 months.
In addition to the asset forfeitures filed in court today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office conjunctively sent out warnings to the remaining 26 stores in the city, even those that have already closed. The letters inform the owners of a 14-day grace period to comply with federal law or risk civil or criminal actions.
In a press release, Police Chief Jim McDonnell expressed his gratitude to have Federal backing in trying to rid the city of illegal dispensaries.
“Marijuana dispensaries have posed significant challenges to the city of Long Beach,” McDonnell said. “We always welcome the opportunity to partner with federal authorities in an effort to address these illegal operations that affect the quality of life in our community.”
With the filing of the new lawsuits today, the total number of asset forfeiture complaints against illegal marijuana operations brought forth by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the district total 32. According to officials, 23 of those actions were eventually resolved by the closure of the marijuana operations and consent decrees. The consent decrees in some cases required the property owners to surrender any rent payment made by marijuana store operators, and in all cases required that the property owner to agree to no longer rent to anyone associated with illegal marijuana operations or risk immediate forfeiture to the government.
The current wave of federal enforcement actions including the aforementioned warning letters, lawsuits and other actions by federal prosecutors brings the number of targeted businesses to 625. Prosecutors said that the majority of the previously targeted illegal marijuana business are now either closed, subject of eviction notices from their landlords or are facing additional federal enforcement actions.
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