California Still Battling Illegal Cannabis Growers

California is still making its way through the weeds (thanks, I’m here all week…) as far as its adult-use cannabis program goes, and the focus lately has been working for the clampdown on the illicit marketplace. A few recent activities give insight as to how that’s going.

Let’s start with illicit growing, which is seemingly going as strong under legalization as it was before. Proof can be found in a recent bust in Santa Barbara (where, to be fair, you pretty much need to grow and sell this much untaxed weed to afford to live there).

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department reported that on June 17, a multi-agency force descended upon a commercial grow site which had “fraudulently obtained State temporary and provisional cannabis licenses and the suspected sales of undocumented cannabis.”

They found 60 acres being used to grow cannabis, and, per the Sheriff’s website, “It took a total of four days for the team to seize approximately 20 tons of processed cannabis [emphasis mine] and eradicate approximately 350,000 cannabis plants, several of which were nearly ready to harvest.”

Santa Barbara isn’t alone in the illicit production. Marijuana Business Daily reports that in Northern California during the months of May and June, law enforcement seized nearly 20,000 plants and almost 600 pounds of processed pot from Siskiyou County, which is near the California/Oregon border.

The State of California really wants people to stop supporting illegal growing, which is why they’ve started a new campaign dubbed “Get #Weedwise,” which, as California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control chief says (via Marijuana Business Daily), “will directly impact consumer safety by clarifying that only cannabis purchased from licensed retailers has met the state’s safety standards.”

One ad warns consumers, “What’s in your weed shouldn’t be a mystery. Shop licensed cannabis retailers only.” The initial campaign is spending $1.7 million to get people to stop calling their “guy,” and instead visit their local, government-sanctioned dispensary.

California has fallen short of projected tax revenue on cannabis sales, which many attribute to a combination of high retail taxes on cannabis products and a far slower-than-expected rollout of licenses for growers, processors, and dispensaries.

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies and His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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