Los Angeles Dispensary Ban Math: There Are Not 1,000 Dispensaries in L.A.



Round numbers. They're bullshit. The truth is never round like 1,000. It's spiky — like the number 472.

Four hundred and seventy-two is arguably the best guess we have at the number of storefront medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. It comes from a recent UCLA study, as opposed to thin air, which is where L.A.'s elected leaders, paid staff of Los Angeles and major media are happily pulling from.

According to the UCLA release: "To determine the actual number of dispensaries in operation, the researchers compiled lists using multiple electronic and hard-copy sources, including the city's finance list. These lists referenced 875 unique locations, including 762 dispensaries registered with the city. When the researchers went to these locations, they found that only 472 were actually operating as dispensaries.

Map of 472, not 1,000 medical marijuana stores in Los Angeles
  • UCLA
  • Map of 472, not 1,000 medical marijuana stores in Los Angeles

"Some of the locations we visited had previously been dispensaries but were no longer open," said [researcher Bridget] Freisthler, adding that a significant portion of these businesses had never been operating as dispensaries and instead had been other businesses for decades or were addresses to postal boxes. All of the visits were made during the past three weeks.

"We spoke with an owner of one business who said he had registered with the city but was only going to open a dispensary if he got a permit during the lottery process, which was later deemed illegal and not actually conducted," Freisthler said. "We also found one location listed five times on the city finance list and registered under five different names."

The number of medical marijuana dispensaries currently in operation in Los Angeles is roughly the same as the number of bars in the city, and it represents roughly 20 percent of the number of off-premise outlets that sell alcohol, such as liquor and grocery stores, said Freisthler, who received funding from the National Institute of Drug Abuse for this study."

Dear L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, and NPR and all other very busy over worked and underpaid media people. Stop saying there are 1,000 dispensaries in Los Angeles without backing up that number.

Now, is 472 clubs too many for a city of 3.8 million people? We'll let ya'll tackle that in the comments.

[Read more of Bridget Friesthler's research on dispensaries and crime.]

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