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Long Beach launches pot shop raids

Long Beach police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided seven medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday in what officials said was the beginning of a crackdown on pot shops in the city.

“We started with this first seven, and it is our intent to continue targeting each of these locations until we reach every single one of them,” said police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt.

Pratt said several dozen dispensaries operate in the city. Police arrested 40 people in Wednesday’s raid that targeted the Long Beach Green Room, Long Beach Natural Solutions, and Herbal Solutions, among others.

For several years, Long Beach sought to regulate marijuana dispensaries. Last year, a court ruled the city could not establish policies for pot shops because the federal government prohibits them. The decision is one of several conflicting court rulings the state Supreme Court will consider next year.

In reaction to the ruling, Long Beach enacted an outright ban in August.

“The seven dispensaries that were targeted were those that the Police Department had received the highest level of complaints for from the community,” said a Long Beach police press release. “The L.B.P.D. is strongly urging the remaining dispensaries to voluntarily cease their operations.”

Medical marijuana activists have said the ban prevents sick people from obtaining their medicine. Pratt said they can still grow their own, if they have a doctor’s recommendation.

“Any one person can have up to six mature plants for personal use,” she said.

Activists argue that many people are unable to grow their own marijuana, and that state law allows non-profit collectives. Law enforcement officials have argued most dispensaries in the state are for profit ventures.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration participated in the Long Beach raids. The federal government has launched its own crackdown on commercial pot shops in Los Angeles, where hundreds operate as storefront businesses.