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Illegal Marijuana Market Still Thrives In Los Angeles

A close-up of a marijuana leaf is seen in this undated photo.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: A close-up of a marijuana leaf is seen in this undated photo.

California ushered in broad marijuana legalization nearly six months ago, but the illegal market still thrives.

Nowhere is that more apparent than Los Angeles County. Hundreds of illegal pot shops operate, undercutting the fledgling legal market.

The sheriff's department has created a specialized unit to target illegal dispensaries, and its members raid one shop each week, on average. At that pace, it would take many years to close all the existing illegal operations.

Adam Spiker is executive director of a trade organization that represents cannabis growers, distributors and dispensary owners.

He said it's unfair for legal business owners to pay for licenses and pay taxes only to be undercut by illegal operators who can sell their product at a lower cost because they don't apply taxes.

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