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Black Market Cannabis Shops Thrive in L.A. Even as City Cracks Down

A budtender handles marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, 2012. (Credit: David McNew / Getty Images)

A budtender handles marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, 2012. (Credit: David McNew / Getty Images)

From the street, it looked like an old-school drug raid.

A half-dozen police and city vehicles sat near the entrance of the White Castle cannabis dispensary near the Los Angeles Harbor, where a sign bearing a giant green cross faced Pacific Coast Highway.

But the cops didn’t seize any marijuana from the illegal shop. No one was arrested, just detained briefly while utility workers moved to shut off power. The officers had been there before and would likely be back. One detective guessed the business would be up and running again in a week.

Amid growing complaints from lawmakers and cannabis lobbyists about the city’s teeming marketplace for unregulated weed, Los Angeles in recent months has ramped up enforcement against illegal pot dispensaries. But with so much money on the line, many violators are choosing to stay open even after the city has cut off their power or threatened them with arrests or fines.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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