The New Owner of LA Weekly is a Pot Lawyer?

It’s no question the journalism industry is in a state of crisis. In the last year alone Rolling Stone was sold, and Nylon magazine and the Village Voice closed their esteemed print editions. Last January Voice Media Group put our former sister-paper, LA Weekly, up for sale and earlier this week they were purchased by mysterious entity, Semanal Media, LLC.

Until this morning, no one knew anything about them—where they’re based, who owns the company, what kind of media group they are and what their reputation is—leaving the current LA Weekly team anxious at best. Then, last Wednesday, the LA Times reported that Semanal Media, LLC. is a new entity that was apparently created for the sole purpose of purchasing LA Weekly. (Semanal means “Weekly” in Spanish).

This morning, however, the enigmatic purchaser was added to the California Secretary of State Business Database. The registered agent on the document is Los Angeles medical cannabis attorney, David Welch of D|R Welch Attorneys at Law. Yes, the same cannabis lawyer who filed suit against the 14 unlicensed dispensaries in Santa Ana last February after Sky High Holistic Collective was raided for (nearly) the twelfth time.

Welch brought lawsuits against those facilities because they don’t have a city-issued Measure BB license, don’t pay city taxes, provide proper onsite ventilation (which negatively affects the air quality of surrounding communities), or perform background checks on their employees. But it wasn’t until last August that Welch officially served the suit to Orange County cannabis attorney, Matt Pappas— the original lawyer representing the rogue dispensaries.

In an interview last July, prominent OC cannabis lawyer Randy Longwith explained he didn’t expect much to happen with the suit due to the regulations of 2018 coming into effect before any real action taking place. In any case, many of those 14 rogue dispensaries have shut down thanks to increased enforcement and receiverships.

We briefly spoke to Welch today to ask him about the purchase. “We’re working on the deal but I can’t make any comments until the deal has gone through,” he said. When asked if he knew when the deal would be completed, he refused to comment and shortly after hung up the phone.

So what does this mean for LA Weekly? Considering the fact LA is the largest cannabis market in California, it’s not surprising that someone from the cannabis industry would hop on the opportunity to buy an adored LA publication. Meanwhile, it seems likely that Welch isn’t the only one in on the deal. Although he’s the registered agent for the buyer, it’s likely he simply represents one or more silent partners, marijuana industry investors who provided the actual money for the purchase.

Stay tuned!

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