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Law California

bulllee

Well-Known Member
NEWS BRIEF

Another massive bust of illegal marijuana grows in California​

Published 4 hours ago



California law enforcement officials this week announced two days worth of raids at several locations that produced the largest illegal marijuana grow operation in the history of the San Francisco Bay area.

As of Thursday, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office estimated that deputies had seized roughly 100,000 marijuana plants, 12,000 pounds of cannabis flower, about $10 million in cash and 37.6 tons of plants and materials from at least a dozen sites where search warrants were executed, The (San Jose) Mercury News reported.
The warrants and raids were the result of an 18-month-long investigation, and Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Kelly predicted the busts – and resulting arrests of several suspects – would have little to no impact on California’s thriving illicit cannabis market.
“There is nothing to stop them from doing it again,” he said. “It’s such a lucrative business.”
The history-making bust is one of several conducted already this year in California.
In June, authorities uncovered another huge unlicensed marijuana grow operation in Los Angeles County that was worth an estimated $1 billion.
Members of California’s legal marijuana market cite the underground market as one of the state’s biggest hurdles to success, but law enforcement officials say their hands are largely tied when it comes to effective crackdown efforts.
Cannabis Industry & Marijuana Business Briefs California Medical Cannabis Business & Marijuana Legal News
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

100,000 Cannabis Plants Seized In Historic San Francisco Bay Area Bust

A two-day raid by law enforcement agents in the Bay Area led to millions of dollars in cash and 100,000 cannabis plants being confiscated.

Law enforcement officials in the San Francisco Bay Area seized more than 100,000 cannabis plants from more than a dozen unlicensed cultivation sites last week, taking down a “modern day bootlegging” operation in a series of raids that spanned two days. The massive bust carried out by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office across the East Bay resulted in the confiscation of millions of dollars in cash and cannabis plants representing tens of millions in potential illicit marijuana sales, according to law enforcement estimates.

“This is an organization operating outside the law and the protocols of governance of marijuana in California, unsanctioned and making millions in profits,” said Ray Kelly, public information officer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Kelly said that the illicit cultivation operations, which he described as “high tech” and “very sophisticated,” were “motivated by extreme profit and greed. It was a pure cash grab by the organizers of this enterprise.” Several suspects have been arrested during the raids, although officials have not released the names of those individuals taken into custody.

18-Month Investigation Led To Bay Area Raids​

More than 100 sheriff’s office personnel and agents with the Alameda County Narcotics Task Force were involved in an 18-month investigation that culminated in last week’s raids, which saw search warrants served at 18 sites in East Oakland, Hayward, Castro Valley and San Leandro. The investigation was begun by narcotics detectives with the sheriff’s department after they received a tip about an illegal marijuana cultivation operation. The raids yielded about six tons of pot as well as Rolex watches and other jewelry.

“We’ve seized 12,000 pounds of processed, harvested marijuana product ready to go to sale,” Kelly said.

At one raided cultivation site in an Oakland warehouse, deputies seized as much as $10 million in cash along with evidence of a money-laundering operation. Kelly noted that the Bay Area cultivators could have avoided police action if it had been licensed by the state.

“What’s crazy about this is had they applied for proper permits and fees and paid all their licenses and tax fees, we wouldn’t be here,” he said at a press conference at the Oakland warehouse on Thursday, where he displayed a bag he said contained $1 million in seized cash. “This is one of the largest grows we’ve ever seen in recent memory. It’s a massive operation.”

“These people are not doing that,” Kelly told Newsweek, referring to gaining the necessary permits to cultivate cannabis legally. “They’re operating similar to 1920s bootlegging operation. They’re very sophisticated, very organized. They’ve invested millions of dollars in their infrastructure. We estimate they have somewhere near half a million square feet of real estate grow space that they use.”

Kelly said that the operators of the illicit cannabis cultivation sites would purchase warehouses and other buildings, outfitting them with sophisticated growing equipment including computers and timers. The suspects would pay plumbers and electricians inder the table to install the equipment, and hired cultivators, trimmers, and transporters to produce and distribute the cannabis.

12 Truckloads of Pot Up In Smoke​

The sheriff’s spokesperson said that 12 tractor-trailer loads of cannabis had been transported to a site in California’s Central Valley to be incinerated. He added that required taxes had not been paid on cannabis sales and that forensic accountants would be involved in the ongoing investigation. In a social media post on Wednesday, the sheriff’s office wrote that it would take several days to process the search warrant sites and haul away the contraband.

“This organized and sophisticated network of individuals were making tens of millions of dollars in profit and avoiding California [marijuana regulations],” the sheriff’s office wroteon Facebook. “We estimate at this time that we have seized over 100,000 plants and upwards of $10,000,000 in cash. In addition, there are millions of dollars in infrastructure, equipment, lighting, generators and supplies used to facilitate the grows.”

Kelly said that at least seven people have been arrested in the operation so far, and more arrests could be forthcoming. In addition to offenses involving illegal marijuana cultivation and money laundering, detectives are investigating if any environmental laws have be broken by the operation.

“The environmental impact that these locations cause is concerning,” he said. “We’re talking about fertilizers, chemicals, chemicals known to cause cancer.”

Despite the arrests and seizures, Kelly said that the potential profits from illicit cannabis are so high he doubted the operation would serve as much of a deterrent.

“There is nothing to stop them from doing it again,” he said. “It’s such a lucrative business.”
 

bulllee

Well-Known Member

California ‘burner’ distributor lawsuit underlines why licensed cannabis firms cheat to stay afloat, insiders say​

Published October 6, 2021 | By John Schroyer


Image of money changing hands


When the CEO of a California marijuana retail chain sued the state in September over so-called “burner distribution licenses,” he focused a spotlight on an issue that many in the state’s cannabis industry are loathe to acknowledge:
Many of the state’s licensed marijuana businesses are bending or breaking the rules – and have been since California’s legal adult-use market launched in 2018 – because there’s so little profit to be had by operating lawfully.
That’s an allegation leveled by numerous industry officials. Such activity has been something of an open secret for years, but the “burner distro” lawsuit has given insiders cover to discuss more openly.

“The simple answer on what gave rise to (burner distribution licenses) is: Legal operators are trying to find ways to survive. That’s been made very clear to me over the last several years,” said Adam Spiker, the executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a Los Angeles-based cannabis trade organization.
Spiker said high taxes and the ever-present underground market are the most obvious reasons for the lack of profitability, but the obviously shrunken penalties for breaking the law are a big factor as well, since legalization made it easier for the underground market to operate without fear of serious reprisals.
“The legal operator cannot compete doing things fully above board,” he said. “That’s a huge part of it. But there’s virtually no risk for people to do it completely outside the legal realm.”
The burner distro lawsuit – filed by Elliot Lewis, CEO of Catalyst Cannabis Co. – alleges that criminals have been legally buying cannabis distribution licenses by using “front men” to disguise their true identities and intentions.
The suit also claims the rogue distributors are using the licenses to buy vast amounts of legally grown marijuana at wholesale prices and then selling the product inside or outside California through unlicensed channels – a move that undercuts legal retailers and other cannabis businesses.
Lewis’ suit, filed Sept. 15 in Orange County Superior Court, also charges that state officials have ignored the actions of those who hold the burner distribution licenses.
The phrase burner distro is an offshoot of so-called “burner” cell phones, which are intended for short-term use before being discarded.
Spiker and other industry officials say many licensed marijuana companies running burner distro operations are being taken advantage of by third-party actors who had no intention of operating in the legal market.
But industry insiders also contend that many of these licensed marijuana entrepreneurs feel they’ve been given a simple choice because of the state’s harsh business landscape: Break the rules or watch your business die.
“The real takeaway from the burner distribution licenses is that the state’s regulatory framework makes it nearly impossible for legal operators to be profitable. And until that framework changes, illegal activity will continue to exist,” said Hirsh Jain, founder of Los Angeles-based consultancy Ananda Strategy.
Jain added that the current California landscape retains “elements of prohibition,” including:
  • Ongoing marijuana retail bans in more than two-thirds of municipalities and counties.
  • High state and local taxation for legal cannabis.
  • High compliance costs for businesses of all sizes.
“The barriers to entry are such that this is de facto prohibition, even if it’s not prohibition in name,” Jain said. “The real way to mitigate the illegal market is to discard those elements of prohibition.”
California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is the primary defendant in Lewis’ lawsuit, which asks a judge to force the agency to remedy the situation.
DCC officials, citing agency policy, have declined to comment on the suit. Nicole Elliott, the head of the DCC, declined to comment for this story.
Bending or breaking the rules
Multiple industry insiders guesstimated that anywhere from a third to more than 70% of the state’s thousands of licensed marijuana businesses have been skirting rules in various ways, including offloading legal cannabis into the illicit market through burner distributors.
Couple that with a broad lack of industry oversight and enforcement, industry insiders said, and it’s little surprise that burner distributors have become so widespread.
“I call it a pressure relief valve,” California marijuana consultant Jackie McGowan said. “The industry would be in chaos if it weren’t for this.”
Johnny Delaplane, the president of the San Francisco Cannabis Retailers Alliance, said it’s nearly impossible for many companies to make enough money doing business 100% by the book.
As one example, Delaplane said a company with 20 workers might have to devote three highly paid employees to comply with the state’s seed-to-sale software tracking system, Metrc.
“(Retailers’) margins are anywhere from 1%-5%, net income. At the best stores, really high volume, you might be able to get to 7%-8%,” Delaplane said.
He added that many burner distributors have been “supporting people in the industry that otherwise would be failing, and their businesses would be dying.”
Delaplane said the chokepoints for profit and loss are different for each vertical but, across the supply chain, it’s a similar story.
The same apparently holds true in the Emerald Triangle in Northern California.
But one licensed grower from Humboldt County, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, said most small farmers aren’t bothering to use burner distributors to solve their financial woes.
Instead, they’re following the legacy trafficking practices that were common before California legalized adult use in 2018 and simply marking cannabis as destroyed in the state track-and-trace system. But, in reality, the crops are being shipped across state lines to prohibition markets.
And while those farmers might not be relying on burner distributors, the underlying issue is the same: The business landscape makes it tough for legal companies to be profitable.
“I do not know anyone, not one of them, that has sold legitimately on the (legal) market this year for a profit,” the farmer said.
“Most of them, if not all of them, have taken the weed from last year … and then sold it out of state, because we have no other choice.”
On top of that, McGowan, a longtime industry consultant, said she’s been hearing of social equity program licensees winning distribution permits and then turning around and selling them to underground operators, often with the full knowledge that those licenses will be used as burner distros.
“The social equity programs are completely preyed upon for this license,” McGowan said.
“They look at this system as reparations and thought, ‘I’m going to go get me this golden ticket and get paid.’ … You’re willingly allowing someone to use your name to break the law. And some of them are so desperate, they’re like, ‘I don’t even give a s***.'”
What can be done?
Spiker said state regulators have known about the problem of burner distribution licenses for more than a year, because he’s been telling officials about it and trying to develop a workable solution.
Spiker has not hammered out an agreement. But he remains hopeful the DCC, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration will collaborate on policy changes that give legal businesses a lifeline while cracking down on burner distributors.
Spiker proposes tightening the current 90-day tax-collection window for licensed distributors to 30 days.
He said that would generate more state marijuana tax collections and give burner distributors less flexibility to ship legal cannabis to the underground market.
The tradeoff for cannabis companies: His plan would also lower state cannabis taxes by eliminating the cultivation tax and the occasional wholesale markup rate.
Spiker is shopping around his plan but hasn’t found a bill sponsor in the Legislature to run such a measure.
Still, he suggested officials might be open to the idea.
“We need tax relief to make the legal industry more competitive,” Spiker said.
John Schroyer can be reached at john.schroyer@mjbizdaily.com.
 

bulllee

Well-Known Member

New law opens California market to CBD operators around the globe​


By Kristen Nichols, Hemp Editor
October 13, 2021

Image of Welcome to California sign

California’s new CBD law is attracting attention from cannabis operators far beyond the Golden State.

They have 3.2 trillion reasons to care.

A legal change signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week opens the world’s fifth-largest economy – with an estimated $3.2 trillion gross state product – to makers of hemp-derived CBD products worldwide.

It’s a change that is grabbing attention from the CBD industry’s largest operators.

“We’ve been working on this bill for the last two-plus years,” said David Culver, head of lobbying for cannabis giant Canopy Growth in Ontario, Canada.

Canopy makes hemp-derived CBD products such as Biosteel sports-drink mixes and a Martha Stewart line of CBD gummies.

But Canopy has been holding off on selling those products in California because the state that pioneered marijuana policy wouldn’t allow over-the-counter CBD sales – until now.

“This is the bill that opens up the California market,” Culver told Hemp Industry Daily.

“This is going provide that regulatory certainty for retailers in the state so that they’re not worried about products being confiscated.”

Long time coming
The road to legal over-the-counter CBD in California was bumpy.

Low-THC cannabinoid products have been on California retailers’ shelves for years with little safety regulation.


But a 2018 ban on hemp-derived CBD in foods, drinks and dietary supplements resulted in occasional raids and product seizures.

“We had early success in California, and we built a lot of relationships, and then we kind of had the rug pulled out from under us,” said Doug MacKay, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for CBD manufacturer CV Sciences.

The San Diego company sells hemp-derived CBD in CVS drugstores and other nationwide retailers, but it pulled products from brick-and-mortar shelves in its home state.

MacKay cited a “strong marijuana lobby” for the holdup in getting CBD in California stores, but he credited cannabis negotiators for keeping at it until a compromise was made.

“What this bill really marks (is) a clear unambiguous pathway to market that gives retailers a very clear way to work with responsible CBD companies that are willing to follow the laws and have the right labeling,” MacKay said.

The new law also opens the door for hemp-derived products beyond CBD to be sold in California’s estimated 1,859 medical or adult-use marijuana retailers.
Those stores are projected to hit sales of $4.9 billion-$5.7 billion in 2021, according to the 2021 MJBizFactbook.

More negotiating to come
Not everyone is happy with the California CBD law.

Many hemp producers in the Golden State point out that the new law leaves intact a ban on smokable hemp, saying that those products can’t be sold until a new tax is enacted, a process that could take years.

“It severely hurts hemp farmers in the state of California who grow smokable-hemp flower,” said Larry Farnsworth, spokesman for the Washington DC-based National Industrial Hemp Council, which criticized the bill last month for “picking winners and losers.”

“While this is a win for the hemp industry as a whole, farmers do lose in this legislation,” the Washington DC-based group said.

Some California hemp producers have threatened a lawsuit over the new law.

Another national hemp activist, Jody McGinness of the DC-based Hemp Industries Association, argued that the change in California should be seen as a step in the right direction.

He pointed out that some California officials wanted to ban smokable hemp flower for good.

“Is the bill less than perfect? Sure. Crafting policy is a series of trade-offs,” he said.

“Finished legislation always falls short of where you want it to be, but we should take the time to celebrate this as a victory.”
Kristen Nichols can be reached at kristen.nichols@hempindustrydaily.com.
 

bulllee

Well-Known Member

California cannabis company sues over ‘Breez’ trademark​


By MJBizDaily Staff
October 25, 2021
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A trademark battle is in the wind in California over the use of Breez – and Breeze – as a cannabis product brand.
Oakland-based Promontory Holdings sued The Breeze Brand of Los Angeles in state court, claiming infringement over Promontory’s California-registered “Breez” trademark, Law360 reported.
Promontory sells popular CBD-THC combo mints, tincture sprays and tablets under the “Breez” brand, while The Breeze sells CBD gummies and vape pens under “Breeze.”
The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, could cast light on the legal strength of a cannabis trademark in California.
Promontory’s lawsuit, according to Law360, claims that the value of its Breez brand has been harmed and will continue to be harmed because of customer confusion.
The complaint says that Breez consistently is ranked as one of the top cannabis brands in California by the independent firm BDS Analytics.
Key insights to inform decisions: MJBiz Factbook
Say hello to marijuana business data, curated by the editors of MJBiz Daily to help cannabis industry leaders make informed decisions.
  • US marijuana industry financials
  • Licensing, funding & investment trends
  • State-by-state guide to regulations, taxes & opportunities
  • Insights for business and investment strategy.

Promontory registered the Breez trademark in December 2020, according to California secretary of state records. That registration doesn’t expire until 2025.
Officials from the Breeze Brand couldn’t be reached for comment by MJBizDaily.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Oh, they fucked it up...wow, what a surprise.

Continuing illicit market killing legal market has been a story for quite some time but, AFAIK, no significant action has taken place

California cannabis industry says it's been pushed to 'breaking point'


Several of the California's leading cannabis companies have banded together to direct a dire warning to Gov. Gavin Newsom this week. In a letter sent to the governor’s office and leaders of the state legislature, business leaders warned that the state’s legal cannabis industry is on the verge of collapse.

"It is an emergency," said David Goldman, who sits on the board of the San Francisco dispensary, The Green Cross.

Goldman is among the hundreds who have added their signatures in support of the letter, Save California Cannabis Industry, on the site Change.org.

"We need you to understand that we have been pushed to a breaking point," states the letter.

"It’s not just our dispensary, it’s every dispensary that is facing this exact problem," said Goldman.
Industry leaders behind the letter say the challenges that the industry is currently face are directly tied to how it is being regulated and taxed in the state.

Goldman says that high taxes make it incredibly challenging for the regulated cannabis industry to compete with prices being offered by illegal underground markets.

"If we don’t get in front of this tax issue. It’s going to roll right over us in the state and it’s happening quickly," agreed Michael Koehn, who sits on the leadership of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of San Francisco, a group that advocates for medical cannabis patients.

Goldman says the underground market allows illegal suppliers to offer cannabis products that are purported to be on average, 50 percent cheaper than those of their regulated counterparts, and potentially dangerous.

"The medicine isn’t tested, and from my experience, when we’ve tested illicit cannabis, it’s often found to be high in pesticides," said Goldman. "Lowering the taxes, will put a dent in the illicit market. I think it is an excellent way in the long run to raise state tax revenue from cannabis."

A spokesperson for Newsom's office responded in a statement on Sunday.

The governor's communications director, Erin Mellon, said that the governor acknowledges the need to curb illegal sales, and supports tax reform, adding in part: "It’s clear that the current tax construct is presenting unintended but serious challenges. Any tax reform effort in this space will require action from two-thirds of the legislature and the governor is open to working with them on a solution."

Among the demands from industry leaders in the letter are an immediate lifting of the state’s cultivation tax on growers, a three-year holiday from the California’s excise tax, and expansion of retail shops through much of the state.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"signaled that he is open to rethinking"

Wow, now there is some concrete and firm language right there, yeah? Let's see...we got "signalling" which ain't exactly a firm statement and we have "open"...committed stuff there. LOL

I'm almost sorry I posted this article as, if read closely, it actually says pretty much nothing.



Gavin Newsom gets behind marijuana tax reform, signaling change to cannabis industry

Facing a possible industry revolt over California cannabis tax structure, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signaled that he is open to rethinking the taxes the state levels on marijuana growers and purchases. The governor included in a budget proposal he released this week that he “supports cannabis tax reform and plans to work with the Legislature to make modifications to California’s cannabis tax policy to help stabilize the market.”


Asked to expand on the language at a press conference, Newsom said, “There was intention by having that language in the budget. It is my goal to look at tax policy to stabilize the market.”

Newsom’s budget projects that the state will collect $787 million in cannabis revenue during the 2022-23 tax year. Of that, the budget estimates that nearly $595 million will be available to be allocated to youth substance abuse treatment, clean-up of illicit cannabis grows and support public safety-related activities. It’s been a bumpy road for legal cannabis in California since voters approved adult-use sales in 2016. Cannabis activity, including cultivation, distribution and retail, remains outlawed in much of the state, as cities and counties have been reluctant to authorize such activities. Newsom said his goal is “to get these municipalities to wake up to the opportunities to get rid of the illegal market and the illicit market and provide support and a regulatory framework for the legal market.” Newsom’s statements, and budget proposal, came as welcome news to Elizabeth Ashford, vice president of communications for Eaze, a cannabis delivery company. Ashford previously worked for Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger.


“I think Gov. Newsom knows and his advisers know that they can’t let the legal market fail,” Ashford said in a telephone interview after Newsom unveiled his budget proposal.


“It’s extremely important that the steps that state government can take are taken. They need to take these steps.”


Ashford is among the cannabis industry advocates who believes the legal industry is facing an existential threat with a persistent illicit market and an conflicting local regulations.


“This is a complex, important job creation ecosystem in the state. So when we talk about the legal market potentially facing an existential crisis, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of jobs and also millions in revenue,” she said.


Michael Steinmetz, founder of Flow Cannabis Co., one of the largest cannabis brands in the state, also applauded Newsom’s announcement. Steinmetz made headlines last year when he vowed to wage a tax revolt against the state if it failed to initiative industry tax reforms. Steinmetz is among a group of cannabis entrepreneurs and advocates planning rallies at the Capitol, one on Thursday, Jan. 13, and one on Jan. 26.


“We are grateful the governor has heard the cries of large and small business owners, farmers, employees, patients and consumers about the dire state of legal cannabis in California. To the Legislature, we now ask that you too hear our cries and join us on Jan. 13 and 26 as we share our stories on Sacramento’s Capitol steps,” Steinmetz said in an email.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

LA County Introduces Ordinance to Charge Illegal Cannabis Operations $30,000 Per Day

The hefty, daily fine is intended to deter illegal cannabis endeavors from operating.

Los Angeles County has long been home to illegal cannabis endeavors, and now the Board of Supervisors has approved the introduction of an ordinance that could charge illegal cannabis operations tens of thousands of dollars per day.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to introduce an ordinance to start fining illegal cannabis businesses. Any cultivation or dispensaries operating without a permit in unincorporated areas of the county could soon be charged $30,000 every day. Although the introduction was approved, the ordinance still needs to be voted on by the Board for formal adoption.

The official motion text describes the “nuisance abatement ordinance” that could be approved in a future meeting. “The unpermitted commercial cannabis activities including illegal cannabis cultivation are incredibly profitable and in particular, cannabis cultivation has continued to proliferate due to the ease of establishment in more remote and rural locations,” the motion reads. “Therefore, the penalties contained within the draft ordinance should, consistent with State law, be adjusted and increased to ensure that they act as a deterrent to the continued operation of illegal commercial cannabis operations.”

The motion was written by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl. “The County Code currently prohibits all commercial cannabis activity within the County’s unincorporated areas, including the establishment, maintenance, and operation of any commercial cannabis business activity, and the renting or leasing of, or allowing property to be used for that purpose in all zones,” the motion states. “However, the County continues to be inundated with unpermitted cannabis dispensaries in the unincorporated areas. Despite the efforts of numerous County departments, the growth of unpermitted cannabis dispensaries continues to outpace enforcement.”

Barger presented the motion with the hope that it could help cull illegal cannabis operations, noting that water supplies that contain chemicals pose both a threat to public safety, among other concerns. She states that even though the county’s work against illegal cannabis is steadfast, a lack of “legally enforceable options” puts the efforts at a disadvantage.

In a press release, Barger summarized how these illegal cannabis businesses are harming the county. “Unpermitted commercial cannabis cultivation is profitable and has thrived in the rural Antelope Valley because of how easy it is to stand up operations. Communities in the desert continue to report illegal large scale cannabis grows that have been accompanied by water theft, trespassing, trash and the use of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, putting residents’ health and safety at risk.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl also agreed that something needs to be done. “California voters legalized recreational cannabis in order to create a system that assured consumers of product safety while prohibiting cannabis access to minors,” said Kuehl, “but illegal cannabis operations continue to undermine the will of the people. This motion puts teeth in enforcement and ensures that unpermitted dispensaries face stiff penalties in the future.”

Supervisor Janice Hahn confirmed that strengthening and protecting the region’s legal cannabis businesses is also a way to tackle the illegal businesses head-on.

“I do know that providing a legal pathway for people to grow, produce, sell cannabis can help in some way to tackle the illegal market,” Hahn shared. “Hopefully, we’re going to be voting soon on the idea of legally providing options for cannabis businesses in unincorporated county [areas].” A news release on Barger’s website confirms that a study is being conducted to determine recommendations for legal cannabis businesses, such as retail, manufacturing, distribution and more.

In October 2021, Los Angeles County set aside $5 million to fund the effort to combat illegal cannabis in Antelope Valley. A press release states that $2.4 million will go to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and $1.2 million toward the department’s Marijuana Eradication Team, while $503,000 will go toward Lancaster Sheriff Station overtime patrols and $707,000 will be used to buy trucks that can traverse tough terrain in these investigations.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

LA County Introduces Ordinance to Charge Illegal Cannabis Operations $30,000 Per Day

The hefty, daily fine is intended to deter illegal cannabis endeavors from operating.

Los Angeles County has long been home to illegal cannabis endeavors, and now the Board of Supervisors has approved the introduction of an ordinance that could charge illegal cannabis operations tens of thousands of dollars per day.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to introduce an ordinance to start fining illegal cannabis businesses. Any cultivation or dispensaries operating without a permit in unincorporated areas of the county could soon be charged $30,000 every day. Although the introduction was approved, the ordinance still needs to be voted on by the Board for formal adoption.

The official motion text describes the “nuisance abatement ordinance” that could be approved in a future meeting. “The unpermitted commercial cannabis activities including illegal cannabis cultivation are incredibly profitable and in particular, cannabis cultivation has continued to proliferate due to the ease of establishment in more remote and rural locations,” the motion reads. “Therefore, the penalties contained within the draft ordinance should, consistent with State law, be adjusted and increased to ensure that they act as a deterrent to the continued operation of illegal commercial cannabis operations.”

The motion was written by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl. “The County Code currently prohibits all commercial cannabis activity within the County’s unincorporated areas, including the establishment, maintenance, and operation of any commercial cannabis business activity, and the renting or leasing of, or allowing property to be used for that purpose in all zones,” the motion states. “However, the County continues to be inundated with unpermitted cannabis dispensaries in the unincorporated areas. Despite the efforts of numerous County departments, the growth of unpermitted cannabis dispensaries continues to outpace enforcement.”

Barger presented the motion with the hope that it could help cull illegal cannabis operations, noting that water supplies that contain chemicals pose both a threat to public safety, among other concerns. She states that even though the county’s work against illegal cannabis is steadfast, a lack of “legally enforceable options” puts the efforts at a disadvantage.

In a press release, Barger summarized how these illegal cannabis businesses are harming the county. “Unpermitted commercial cannabis cultivation is profitable and has thrived in the rural Antelope Valley because of how easy it is to stand up operations. Communities in the desert continue to report illegal large scale cannabis grows that have been accompanied by water theft, trespassing, trash and the use of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, putting residents’ health and safety at risk.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl also agreed that something needs to be done. “California voters legalized recreational cannabis in order to create a system that assured consumers of product safety while prohibiting cannabis access to minors,” said Kuehl, “but illegal cannabis operations continue to undermine the will of the people. This motion puts teeth in enforcement and ensures that unpermitted dispensaries face stiff penalties in the future.”

Supervisor Janice Hahn confirmed that strengthening and protecting the region’s legal cannabis businesses is also a way to tackle the illegal businesses head-on.

“I do know that providing a legal pathway for people to grow, produce, sell cannabis can help in some way to tackle the illegal market,” Hahn shared. “Hopefully, we’re going to be voting soon on the idea of legally providing options for cannabis businesses in unincorporated county [areas].” A news release on Barger’s website confirms that a study is being conducted to determine recommendations for legal cannabis businesses, such as retail, manufacturing, distribution and more.

In October 2021, Los Angeles County set aside $5 million to fund the effort to combat illegal cannabis in Antelope Valley. A press release states that $2.4 million will go to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and $1.2 million toward the department’s Marijuana Eradication Team, while $503,000 will go toward Lancaster Sheriff Station overtime patrols and $707,000 will be used to buy trucks that can traverse tough terrain in these investigations.
While at the same time CA tax structure is killing the legal market.
 

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