This article is based on the recent articles “Legal Weed Suppliers Pressure L.A. Officials to Crack Down on Illegal Shops” and “Pot Raids: 100 Search Warrants Served In Anza Marijuana Crackdown”
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California legalized recreational marijuana last year and the transition from the preexisting medical model has been anything but smooth. Many local communities banned recreational sales and, in others, businesses and customers pay exorbitant tax rates approaching fifty percent. These practices, unfortunately, are fueling a thriving black market that will not wane until cannabis law changes.
Black Market Pot Shops are Undercutting the Recreational Market in Los Angeles
The solution isn’t clear. The Southern California Coalition says that many legal shops In Los Angeles are being driven toward bankruptcy because they compete with unlicensed storefronts. The coalition has urged law enforcement to shut down these illicit businesses, and ticket employees to deter them from returning to the black market. They also propose Los Angeles levy tax liens on illegal shops.
While Los Angeles has been clear about its support for the cannabis industry, its high licensing and permit costs pushed many stores operating legally under Prop 215 into the illicit market, unable to fund the cost of entry. The prevalence of these unlicensed shops has gouged smaller legal businesses, and the cultivators supplying these stores often operate without a license as well.
Riverside County’s Task Force
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has yet to issue a single cannabis permit despite hearings this spring and last fall. The local government effectively put growers operating under proposition 215 out of business and medicine when Prop 64 passed. Many chose to continue cultivating.
In response, the county established a Cannabis Regulation Task Force to conduct raids throughout the community since last fall. On June 5th, 700 Task Force officials carried out raids in the Anza Valley region of the county targeting marijuana grows. They seized an estimated 140,000 plants across more than 118 locations, arresting eight people in the process. The team then buried 70 tons of cannabis at the Lamb Canyon Landfill.
Marijuana regulation and a cannabis state license are supposed to be about public welfare. In the legal market, all cannabis products must be tested by independent labs for purity. Black market stores can potentially sell products containing mold or pesticides. The pesticides are not only harmful when humans ingest them, but their run-off also destroys the environment.
Cannabis in Need of Banking
Legislators are working to evolve policies so cannabis businesses can get up and running legally, but barriers to cannabis law remain that don’t have an immediate solution. Federal and state banking bans are some of the most significant issues plaguing the industry, which is reluctantly swimming in cash, an attribute desirable to the black market. The state’s marijuana commerce will likely continue to struggle until it finds a way to reduce its costs of doing business.
Blood | AP, Michael R. “Get Tough: Pot Industry Wants LA Crackdown on Rogue Shops.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 10 June 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/business/get-tough-pot-industry-wants-la-crackdown-on-rogue-shops/2019/06/10/49a057d0-8bd1-11e9-b6f4-033356502dce_story.html?utm_term=.d27825ccd07b.
California News Wire Services. “Pot Raids: 100 Search Warrants Served In Anza Marijuana Crackdown.” Temecula, CA Patch, Patch, 6 June 2019, patch.com/california/temecula/pot-raids-80-search-warrants-served-anza-marijuana-crackdown.
“Legal Weed Suppliers Pressure L.A. Officials to Crack Down on Illegal Shops.” KTLA, 10 June 2019, ktla.com/2019/06/10/legal-weed-suppliers-pressure-l-a-officials-to-crack-down-on-illegal-shops/.
McGreevy, Patrick. “California Is Awash in Cannabis Cash. Some Is Being Used to Bribe Public Officials.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2019, www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-pot-corruption-20190317-story.html.
“Raids Seize More than 4.6K Marijuana Plants at Siskiyou County Illegal Grow Sites.” KDRV News, www.kdrv.com/content/news/Raids-seize-more-than-46k-marijuana-plants-at-Siskiyou-County-illegal-grow-sites-511084792.html.
Service, City News. “A Bunch of Marijuana Was Seized in Riverside County.” NBC Southern California, NBC Southern California, 6 June 2019, www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Riverside-County-Sheriff-Investigate-Illegal-Marijuana-Grow-in-Anza-Valley-510873281.html.