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Legal and Illegal Cannabis Shops

Traveling around the Los Angeles area, it is a common sight to see the glowing green cross of a cannabis dispensary. They are seemingly everywhere these days, even popping up in some unexpected areas.

Unfortunately, most of these dispensaries are illegal, unlicensed shops, or “trap shops,” and fail to abide by the safety and consumer information protocol the State mandates. Due to the lack of any consistent enforcement by authorities, these stores are permitted to conduct business as if they were licensed. When they are shut down by authorities, most just reopen the next day as if nothing happened and continue their deception to the general public.

The following is a handful of ways to tell if you are purchasing your product from a state-licensed shop:

The easiest way to tell is upon entry. All legal dispensaries are required to display their current license in an open and obvious space. Most licenses will also have a QR code so a patient can look up the licensing information immediately on their phone. You can also search the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) website to see the current status of any dispensary in the state. The BCC oversees licensing and regulates all commercial cannabis activity in California.

All cannabis products sold in California must be tested for safety, potency, and content. This information will be on the product itself – THC and CBD content, the strain or strains used, packaging date, and other vital information. This is for the safety of the public. Most products sold at trap shops are not tested and may contain pesticides or other hazardous material that can be unsafe for ingestion.

Finally, you will be paying sales tax, as well as state excise tax, on your purchases. All commercial cannabis products are required to be taxed. Starting Jan-uary 1, 2023, both sales and excise tax must be listed on all

sales receipts.

Until law enforcement decides to stop this Wild West mentality, it is up to the consumer to be vigilant in where they purchase. Not only to help the growers, vendors, and retailers who are following the law, but for your own personal health and safety as well.

By Stephen Freedman

Freedman is the General Manager at ERBA Markets. Locations include the Woods, Los Angeles, Venice, Lompoc, South Bay, and WeHo.

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