Two Los Angeles City Council members said Tuesday they want the city to stop issuing tax certificates to medical marijuana dispensaries that are banned under a measure approved by voters.
Proposition D, which was passed last year, allows just 135 medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Los Angeles, but the city has issued about 945 business tax certificates to operations describing themselves as marijuana dispensaries, according to Councilwoman Nury Martinez.
"While on the one hand we're closing (the shops) down, we are issuing these (tax certificates) to illegal dispensaries throughout the city," Martinez said.
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The dispensaries "pretend these city-issued (tax certificates) are a license to operate," often "deceiving the general public" in an attempt to lease shop space, she said.
Martinez and Councilman Jose Huizar introduced a motion that -- if approved by the full City Council -- would instruct the Office of Finance to stop issuing certificates to businesses that do not comply with Proposition D and to set up a verification and renewal process for medical marijuana dispensaries that the city does allow.
The motion also would instruct the Office of Finance to make sure it is clearly stated on tax certificates that they are "not a license to operate, but just a way for the city to collect business tax," Martinez said.
The city collects about $3 million annually from medical marijuana shops, most of which do not comply with Proposition D, Martinez said.
"While our city continues to profit from these illegal businesses, my residents in my neighborhoods, in my district, are paying the price, and that's just simply not OK," she said. "Children should not have to pass by dispensary after dispensary on their way home, or on their way to school or while they're shopping with their parents."
City Attorney Mike Feuer recently announced that his office has shut down at least 400 medical marijuana dispensaries. In many of the cases, Feuer has gone after the landlords, who are also at fault and can face penalties if they rent their properties to unlawful medical marijuana dispensaries.