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Pot Shop’s Abrupt Closure Leaves Many Unanswered Questions

Nobody seems to know why American Eagle Collective has shut its doors.

American Eagle Collective, one of the most popular medical marijuana dispensaries in Eagle Rock, was known for attracting a steady stream of patients and customers even during the worst days of the recession.

Not anymore.

“AEC Is Now Closed,” reads a cryptic sign glued to the dispensary’s reflective glass door in a mini mall located on the northwest corner of Colorado Boulevard and College View Avenue.

According to the dispensary’s landlord, Penny Botsch, AEC has been closed for the past week—since Thursday, March 22—and the dispensary’s owner has not been answering phone calls.

Target of City Lawsuits

Both AEC and Botsch are among at least two-dozen medical marijuana facilities in Los Angeles that are battling lawsuits by the City Attorney’s office.

While AEC has been accused of violating zoning laws, the dispensary’s landlord has been accused of violating health and safety codes by leasing property to a business that deals in a controlled substance. (The City has sued two other Eagle Rock dispensaries on Colorado Boulevard—Organic Healing Center and Colorado Quality Pain—for violating a law that requires such facilities to be located outside a 600-foot radius of schools.)

It’s not clear whether the City’s lawsuit against AEC has anything to do with its shutting down. (Patch is waiting to hear back from Assistant City Attorney Asha Greenberg about any information she might have about the issue.) And it's not clear whether AEC's closure is connected in any way with a crackdown that the U.S. Department of Justice's launched against marijuana collectives in California in October 2011, shortly before the California Supreme Court agreed to review how cities and counties regulate marijuana.

What’s also unclear is how long AEC will remain closed—presuming it ever reopens.

Landlord Unnerved

For her part, AEC’s landlord is bracing for the worst. “They paid good rent,” she told Patch Thursday. “I don’t know what I’m going to do if they close—I still have to pay the mortgage.”

Asked how much AEC’s rent is, Botsch replied that it’s “in the three figures.” Asked if she could elaborate, the landlord said that the rent is between $2 and $3 per square foot for an approximately 1,000-sq-foot facility.

Botsch, who lives in La Cresenta, doesn’t just own the facility where AEC conducts business—she owns the entire mini mall. And she runs a fledgling printing store, Adams Wilshire Engraving Inc., which has been around since 1942 and is located immediately to the right of AEC.

Other stores in the mall include a Thai massage parlor located immediately to the left of AEC and Bellissimo café, which is owned by Michael Nogueira, past president of the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Nogueira told Patch he didn’t know why AEC had closed. He had heard a rumor, he added, that some people had driven to the mini mall in what appeared to be an unmarked law enforcement vehicle recently and had been taking photographs of the dispensary from outside.

'Huge Relief for Neighbors'

Michael Larsen, president of the , which is opposed to the illegal presence of any marijuana facilities in the neighborhood, also said he didn’t know what prompted AEC to shut down.

“It has been a huge relief for the neighbors,” Larsen said, however, of the dispensary’s closure. (Click here to read an account by one of AEC’s neighbor’s about how marijuana stores hurt Eagle Rock.)

“People don’t like it,” Botsch said, referring to AEC and the fact that many people in the community oppose the presence of as many as a dozen marijuana dispensaries in and around Eagle Rock.

“But patients need the marijuana.”

At around 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, a young woman accompanied by a young man drove into the mini mall parking lot, evidently headed to AEC (see photo). After reading the “closed” sign from a distance, they drove away.

Over the next five minutes, at least two men also drove into the mall’s parking lot and turned around and left after seeing the sign.

Jason March 30, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Maybe now I can actually find parking when I go to HERS Bakery.
Eagle Rock Person March 30, 2012 at 05:32 PM
It's a real shame. I'd like to see the actual statistics of crime related to the collectives in Eagle Rock. Most conduct their business in a professional and clean environment. It's more important to work together to find a local solution. It seems like a crusade led by a few people.
Tim Ryder March 30, 2012 at 06:13 PM
I know why they closed. Why didn't you ask me? My organization, CCUWC, actually visits the local collectives and engages in a dialogue with them, discussing various community issues such as lack of parking, increased foot traffic, etc. Their mini mall is an amazing feat of engineering with exit and the entrance being one and the same. You get any successful business in there and they are going to have the same parking problems. AEC was great at responding to CCUWC's suggestions, they put up signs telling patients not to park in front of the residents, they hired a guard to direct traffic, they even collaborated with one of Mr. Noquiera's businesses to purchase fine pastries. I still don't know why you continue to promote the misinformation and falsehoods by Mr. Larsen and his prohibition crusaders? $3,000 dollars has now exited Eagle Rock's business community and Mr. Larsen jumps for joy? I don't get it.
John March 30, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I am astonished that anyone is "relieved" that any business closed. Lost rent, lost jobs, lost traffic, lost tax revenue, lost commerce for the neighborhood merchants. Most distressing, loss of a service to the community that was obviously needed given its greater success at drawing customers that some of the surrounding businesses. Eagle Rock obviously has a parking problem. Regulate parking, not commerce. Subject other businesses to the same equal scrutiny and regulation as the dispensaries. Gas stations, auto body shops, freeways and dry cleaners should be 600 feet from schools too - they are a lot more harmful to kids that marijuana dispensaries. Kids can't go in bars or dispensaries. That seems regulation enough.
Local March 30, 2012 at 06:31 PM
while I understand and fully sympathies with the need for medical marijuana, I don't believe that every single individual who has a medical marijuana card actually has a medical need for the drugs. What you all keep missing is not the fact that there is a pot dispensary in the neighborhood, its what the "patients" do after they've purchased their drugs. My neighborhood had a huge problem with young men in luxury sedans parking in the streets, smoking marijuana, leaving garbage and intimidating anyone that looked their way. I'm not making an assumption that it was medical marijuana ... they leave their prescription bottles behind when they were done along with their fast food garbage and the occasional condom. Now it may not be the responsibility of a collective to police their patrons. But the very fact that their patrons activities negatively impact the very neighborhood they do business in. Should the state tighten the regulations governing access to medical marijuana? Of course. Should the collectives be held responsible for the actions of their patrons? That I don't know. But what I do know is this. If there was no "easy" access to pot, my neighborhood wouldn't be filled with people parked in their cars smoking in broad daylight to alleviate their supposed medical maladies.
John March 30, 2012 at 06:56 PM
If your problem is as pervasive as it appears, it would seem it would be profitable for the city to station a parking enforcement officer in your neighborhood. Revenue collected from parking tickets, litter citations, driving under the influence arrests, and loitering can fund clean up and enforcement. The City already charges businesses about $100 a month per parking place on the street for this purpose. Doesn't your local convenience store impact your neighborhood too? Stupid people are your problem, not medical marijuana. Obviously these stupid people need a place to hang out - you should promote one that is outside your neighborhood. If marijuana were completely deregulated and available at every 7-11 you wouldn't have a problem. Marijuana should be completely legal, and removed from all federal laws, regulations, treaties and schedules. Diabetes is the biggest, most costly killer we know of. Outlaw sugar. It will kill you quicker than pot.
Scott Rubel March 30, 2012 at 07:10 PM
This shop paid rent to Adams Wilshire Engraving, where I am a long time customer. These wonderful people need this income. Shame on anyone who is overjoyed at the closure.
Local March 30, 2012 at 07:31 PM
John, my local convenient store has nothing to do with stoners. If they were sitting with their booze purchased from said convenient store, then your statement would make sense. And as to "If your problem is as pervasive as it appears blah blah blah." Yes, it would seem so. I and some of my neighbors have been asking Huizar's office to paint the curbs red where they hang out. It took burning car and one year for it to happen. This is not a debate on the legality of marijuana or the fact that twinkys are bad for me. It’s the fact that stupid people, as you state it, buy weed from dispensaries. Stupid people make my neighborhood ugly by their stupid behavior. It's not illegal to be stupid. I'm not going to promote an area for someone to smoke weed just so that they have a place to hang out. I'm not the stupid person’s parents. This my MY neighborhood. I'm not in THEIR neighborhood drinking my scotch in front of their house smoking a cigar and yelling at them while they walk by. No, Medical Marijuana is not my problem, my problem is stupid people like you who believe its my responsibility to provide a safe haven for pot heads to smoke out. Go smoke your medical marijuana at home, in your own house, with your own twinkys ... so you don't leave the wrappers in my gutter. Then you can argue that marijuana induced munchies is the gateway to a life of dialysis.
John March 30, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Local, I thought I was empathizing with you and providing a solution. I completely support your right to a peaceful, clean, safe neighborhood. I understand your frustration that you have been slow to get results from the city - it took me 25 years to get the street repaved in front of my house. I live by the freeway - it took 15 years after it was budgeted to build a soundwall. I had limited rights to solicit for either improvement because I moved in after the conditions existed. I suspect you moved in before there were any dispensaries in your neighborhood and that would give you a more senior say in the matter. I live a couple of blocks from several dispensaries and I haven't had any problems at all - but I am much further away than you. I agree with you that businesses are responsible for the trash they generate - at the circus the guy who sells the popcorn has to pick up the cups left behind. Incidentally, pot heads have a lower incidence of diabetes than the general public - who knows why, but your scotch and cigars will kill you quicker than twinkies.
Kathy March 30, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Thank God they're gone. Medical Marijuana is such a hoax and so many young people believe in this sham. If one is really sick there are 'real' medical doctors to relive pain, and also LA is loaded with all types of clinics to help really sick people. Pot heads need shady deals.......real people seek legitimate medical care. I know I'll be blasted with argument and insults, but I know I'm right and you're wrong.
lamedicalmarijuana March 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM
AEC didn't bribe the right officials Lets face it LA due to the fact that there is no regulation / legitimate path to follow many Weed Shops find themselves having to pay off dirty officials cops etc
lamedicalmarijuana March 31, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Check out these research articles http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=cannabis+glaucoma+pressure&btnG=Search&as_sdt=0%2C5&as_ylo=&as_vis=1 You may have an opinion you think is correct... Science on the other hand
lamedicalmarijuana March 31, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Politicians are trying to ride the coattails of a modern reefer madness campaign in a hope to gain more power via new elections/offices... How did that work out for Cooley? Has Carmen Trutanich been successful at shutting down pot shops? Does anyone know what the supreme court is discussing in an attempt to resolve pack v long beach ?
Kathy March 31, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I'll have to agree with you, lamedical....
Tim Ryder April 01, 2012 at 09:31 PM
So little Miss Perfect shows up calling people 'pot heads'. What about wine drinkers at the Colorado Winery? Call we called them 'wine heads'. Or women that have abortions, 'abortion heads? Really, enough with the name calling. These 'pot heads' as you slander them could be your friends or family members who choose to use this natural herb for whatever reason. They haven't done anything to you so why don't you withhold your immature judgements for your own ignorant worthless group of prohibition crusaders. But to be fair I'll give you an opportunity to call me a 'pot head' at the next neighborhood watch meeting on April 19th in front of Sergeant Orange and we'll see who's right or wrong at that point. I doubt you'll be there because like most cowards who call people names, you really are an just an insecure, immature, little moron!
Local April 01, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Tim. Why so hostile? And no, im no coward. See you there
Kathy April 02, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Tim, take a puff and relax.
coffeegyrl April 02, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Kathy, your funny..and Tim you sound a teensy bit paranoid.....
Byrd April 03, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Damit! All I can do is hope they reopen SOON!
doesnt matter April 05, 2012 at 06:24 PM
are you kidding me? dont come at me like you know my standpoints, i.e. Kathy. Tim is defeneding "potheads," because despite whatever bs you have to say about it, Cannabis, if discovered just today would be the WORLDS wonder drug. Youre no scientist i know this, scientists dont waste there time posting invalid arguments to look asinine, they gather data an make conclusions. there are soo many stereotypes about cannabis that you are automatically blurred to the benefits, which drastically outweigh the cons. this is also taking in to account all of the medicind that we have access to today. but you think our healthcare systems are good? we dont even get healthcare. Almost, almost every other country has better health are system than us(free healthcare at that) and not mention physicians give is pills that burn holes in our kidneys and liver, cause fatigue and even in some cases cancer, which cannabis is found to treat(hash oils). my point is your arguments against a scienttist or physican who is pro marijuana would not stand
Kathy April 06, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Dear "doesnt matter'......if you think "we dont even get healthcare", I would you suggest you go to where ever in the world you believe you will get 'health care'. Please stay there and be happy.
judochop April 07, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Dear Kathy......how many people, in your grand judgement of everyone, 'deserves' a Vicodin prescription? Oh, that's not YOUR judgement to cast?
Kathy April 07, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Dear Judochop, if a licensed physician, Medical Doctor, perscribes 'Vicodin", why in the world wouldn't the patient be able to have the perscription filled?? If the patient can't afford Vicodin, there are pleanty of clinics to serve those with limited resources. Quite often Vicodin is perscribed for "uncomfortable pain", not severe pain that requires serious medical attention.
Hysterical bystander November 30, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Lol kathy is the thpical sheltered idiot that these times are so good at fostering. Just listen to any commercial for any medication the possible side effects are rediculous. Nuasea, rashes, liver damage, ulcers, kidney problems, increased risk for heart attack, stroke people taking aspirin under the age of 20 can be linked to reye syndrome... Inmean really the list goes on . Marijuana ? Eat. Sleep. MAYBE i find i dont tend to do either when smoking but maybe thats just me. Its absolutely funny that she supports this pill popping movement that depressed housewives and rich no goods seem to be so joyfully apart of. And just the simple statement i know im right and your wrong lol ! You sound like a child .

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