Ron Galperin

Ron Galperin
City Controller
Los Angeles, CA


There are over 1700 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, and the majority have no city permits. These businesses are largely cash-based, and the city has difficulty keeping track of all that have opened since 1996, when medical marijuana was legalized in California. Some don’t pay taxes, and don’t comply with regulations, which could make them both victims and perpetrators of crimes. The city wants citizens to use legal dispensaries.


Ron spearheaded an effort to track all the legal dispensaries. The final product was a data map using information from the City Attorney’s Office and Finance Department, showing those eligible for a 2017 Business Tax Certificate, and those that are facing pending litigation from the Attorney’s office.

There are only 191 dispensaries, of the total 1700, that are eligible for this year’s Tax Certificate, which means they are the only dispensaries complying with city regulations. Now customers can be made aware of which dispensaries are legal, safe, and financially contributing to their city.

Ron believes this is a good first step to control the flow of marijuana in LA and that the map will increase in use as recreational marijuana becomes legal in January. The City has opened a Department of Cannabis Regulation to oversee legalization. Check out the map here.

Lesson Learned

Be proactive, don’t let 1700 business open up without licenses.

Ron’s Background

Elected as Controller in 2013. First “Neighborhood Council” member elected to citywide office in LA. Helped develop and teach a program called “L.A. City Government 101,” a course for new neighborhood council members to learn the ins and outs of city government. 20 years as a transactional and litigation lawyer. Wash U undergrad, JD Loyola Law School of LA in 1993.

Ron’s Job

As watchdog for L.A.’s taxpayers, Ron leads a team conducting independent audits, managing payroll for 42,000 employees and disbursements (290,000 to outside vendors, by one recent count). Ron has tried to pay special attention to open data efforts, eg., previously launched ControlPanel.LA, a portal showing the city’s procurement activities, assets and liabilities, employee compensation, and many other metrics.

Startling Fact

Kissed by Lady Gaga at L.A.’s Vigil for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub attack.

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