Southern California Law Enforcement Raids Illegal Cultivation Farms
California is on a mission to go after illegal cultivation sites around the state.
According to the Health & Safety Code cultivating more than six cannabis plants is a crime in California. Anyone who wants to obtain a cultivation license must first get approval by the local, county and city governments. If the applicant is approved by the local governments then they must obtain environmental assessments and permits. The next step would then be to apply for a California Cannabis Cultivation license through the Department of Food and Agriculture.
The High Cost of Cultivation
The fees for state cultivation licenses can comprise of the following:
- Consulting Fees: $20,000- 40,000
- Cultivation License Fee: $65-$4,435
- Local Approval Fees depending on license activities or project: $5,000-$38,350
- Environmental assessments and permits $20,000- $40,000
- California Annual Fee: $5,000 – $30,000
It’s easy to calculate how someone can be in the hole for over $100,000 just to get permission to grow cannabis. If someone decides to disregard the laws in place, sell without permission and go through the improper channels, they could end facing up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $500.
This can also be upgraded to a felony if that person has previous violent felony offenses, if they’re guilty of violating certain California environmental laws while cultivating or if it’s their third offense of cultivating over six cannabis plants. A felony could end up resulting in imprisonment between 16 months to 3 years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000. With risk this low and less red tape, it’s no wonder why some find the black market a better option.
Related Article: Thousands of California Marijuana Growers Could Lose Their License
Legal Troubles for Black Market Growers
The federal government inflicts harsher sentences and fines than California. If you’re convicted for the first time of cultivating less than 50 cannabis plants, you could receive a fine up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison. It’s rare for the Feds to get involved in cultivation for personal use, they usually leave those offenses up to the discretion of each state.
Around 141,000 cannabis plants were seized by law enforcement in Southern California in one week. This massive raid targeted dozens of illegal cannabis farms, with 8 people being arrested as a result. Over 3000 pounds of marijuana, 10 handguns and 17 rifles were confiscated. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department claimed that theft, kidnaping, homicide and robbery have increased in recent months and that the connection was illegal grows in Anza Valley.
Last month the California Fish and Wildlife and an inter-agency team from Yuba County served the Dobbins property a search warrant which resulted in seizing and removing close to 1,000 cannabis plants. Dozens of firearms were also discovered on the property. No arrests were made as the suspects were not at home at the time of the raid.
The Sheriff’s Enforcement Staff and the Cannabis Licensing office in Santa Cruz has so far raided 33 illegal cultivators in 2019. 26,822 cannabis plants have been seized and five people have been charged or cited.
Last month in Siskiyou County, the sheriff’s department conducted a raid which seized 4,464 cannabis plants, $4,991 in drug currency and 77.5 pounds of processed cannabis. It’s estimated that the cannabis plants confiscated during this operation would be worth $26,784,000 on the black market. The 77.5 pounds of processed marijuana alone would be worth $154,000 on the illicit market.
Related Article: Measure N Will Increase Tax on Marijuana on July 1st
Why People Take the Risk of Growing Outside the Law
Once you compare numbers on cultivating the legal way versus illegal mans, it becomes evident why so many people are willing to enter the black market. When weighing the risk reward, they are often not deterred due to the high cost of abiding by the law and the lucrative potential of the illicit market. This ends up being unfair to the businesses who are trying their best to comply with laws while being struck with endless regulations and fees.
One real life example of this dilemma is a cannabis farmer from Humboldt County, CA. He did not disclose his name for obvious reasons, but admitted to growing marijuana for years before it was legal. When it became legalized, he was happy to operate legitimately but decided not to because of the expensive price that comes with abiding by country and California regulations. On the flip side of the coin, Aziz Nashat who spoke in behalf of Lifted Farms stated that the black market has taken a chunk of his business, but he still operates within the law so he can have peace of mind that he won’t get in trouble with law enforcement.
Related Article: Legalized Cannabis Requires a Whole New Segment of Law Professionals
Support Local Businesses
It’s important to support businesses who are striving to grow clean, safe and environmentally friendly cannabis. Harbor Collective is a legal recreational and medical dispensary in San Diego. All of their products come from licensed farms who go through lab testing, environmental tests and all the other precautions needed to be able to sell marijuana that is proven safe for consumers and the environment. Save 10% on your purchase by shopping between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. every day. If you’re short on time you can order online ahead to skip the line at the shop. For any questions visit our website or call them at 619-841-2045 to speak with their friendly staff.