LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles city officials and police announced a crackdown on illegal pot shops Friday, targeting the stores that have dealt with the most volume.
City Attorney Mike Feurer said 23 places so far have been shut down, and investigators went after the ones with the biggest volume of business and creating the most problems.
Merchants at one shopping center in Van Nuys, where a shop was recently shut down, said the illegal spot brought traffic, fights and safety concerns.
But customer Kasey Hayes, who spoke with Eyewitness News, said she loved the store and thought it had good deals.
"It was cheap. An eighth ranged from $20 to $25. If you go somewhere else, an eighth is like $35, $40. That's too much for me," she said.
During the press conference, Feurer and LAPD Chief Michel Moore said clear regulations are in place for shops to follow. They said legal operators are following the requirements to obtain or have a permit.
"My offices have filed charges against more than 500 - 515 to be precise - defendants. These charges relate to more than 100 sites," Feurer said.
Moore went on to say that customers have an obligation to help the city as well.
"When they use a retailer that is not licensed, they undermine the safety of our communities, they promote the proliferation of drug trade organizations and they promote violence," he said.
In addition to the legal concerns, unregulated cannabis can contain contaminants and some can be deadly.
To find out if a store you visit is legal, you may go to cannabis.lacity.org and check what locations have a permit.
As for the businesses and people at the Van Nuys shop that was shut down, they said the change in atmosphere has been immediate.
"It feels better. We don't have to worry about fights or bringing our children here or coming for whatever reason. We don't have to worry about nothing," one woman said.
Anyone who believes a shop near them is a nuisance can file a complaint with the city's cannabis department or call LAPD.