Cannabis Crackdown: Illegal and Non-Compliant Operations
2019 is looking like the year of the crackdown for illegal cannabis operations in California. The 80-year-old, multi-billion dollar illicit cannabis market in California, that serves in-state and out-of-state markets, has proven a tough match for the year old Prop 64 regulations, but, with the end of the collective model on December 31, 2018, there is no longer a gray area for unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. National Guard troops are being deployed to shut down illegal farms on public wildlands, local sheriffs are pursuing illegal central California farms (a previously untouched area), and police are targeting illegal sales in Southern California and hash labs in Humboldt County.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control’s (BCC’s) communications director Alex Traverso said last month that the BCC will be stepping up its complaint-driven enforcement actions via the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation-Cannabis Enforcement Unit (DOI-CEU). Legal operations are being undercut by the illegal market. With cannabis sales, excise, and cultivation tax revenues coming in hundreds of millions of dollars below projections for 2018, it is of paramount importance to the state departments regulating cannabis that illegal operations be shut down.
In many parts of California, the crackdown has been swift for those who previously operated under the scope of a medical marijuana collective. Businesses had until January 1st, 2019 to get a license under Prop 64 and can no longer continue business legally without a license. In San Diego two dispensaries were shut down and the police took action against Ganja Galaxy farmer’s market where the promoter was arrested, all product was seized, and 45 vendors were cited with possession for sale and unpermitted sales. In Humboldt County, a hash lab was raided eradicating all their cannabis and cannabis products, including more than four tons of cannabis trim.
This crackdown could also affect those transitioning to the legal market. In Santa Barbara County three licensed farms were shut down for non-compliance. Furthermore, civil code enforcement and tax collection offices are likely to hit you with fines and seizures rather than arrests, but those can just as easily shut you down. Many, if not most, civil code violations garner fines that are per day, per violation. An improper storage and removal of solid waste violation can be up to a $25,000 fine per day and unauthorized storage of hazardous waste can be up to a $50,000 fine per day. Compliance is key. Scot Candell & Associates now offers a compliance package. If you are unsure whether you are in compliance with all state and local regulations, give us a call. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
read more on the crack down and raids here