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California Cannabis Raid Highlights Persistent Problem of Illegal Operations

Ed Knight

By Ed Knight

May 31, 2022

SBCSD officer raiding cannabis farm

Courtesy of SBCSD

Eleven people are facing charges after law enforcement uncovered a huge underground cannabis growing operation in San Bernardino County, California. The cannabis raid was detailed at a press conference last week held by the county sheriff’s department and district attorney. 

Here’s how the raid went down,

: “After serving a search warrant on March 3 at a five-acre property, deputies unearthed an approximately 14,000-square-foot marijuana grow operation that was situated underground in a ‘bunker’ made out of Conex container boxes, according to authorities. The operation comprised of more than 6,000 marijuana plants that had the potential yield of more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, authorities said.”

Authorities uncovered more than “$9 million in illegal product in an underground bunker,” CBS News

.

“The money in illegal marijuana is not a victimless crime,” saidan Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus,

. “There are a number of things that have happened. I’ve had deputies pass by these areas in Newberry Springs and had rounds go through their front window.” 

that the officials announced charges against 11 individuals at the Monday press conference, five of whom have already been arrested. The other six suspects remain at large, according to the television station. 

“What we are talking about is massive scale, illegal, counterfeit, bootleg conduct that is having a tremendous impact on the environment for our residents in rural counties,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said at the press conference, as quoted by

.

“Once we can say that these properties are known to contain a nuisance, we’re going to take the property,” Anderson added.

Record-Breaking Cannabis Raid for San Bernardino County

, the raid represents the “the biggest illegal cannabis bust in San Bernardino County history.”

that the bust was “in conjunction with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Operation Hammer Strike — a six-team unit attempting to thwart illegal marijuana cultivation in the High Desert and elsewhere in the county consisting of sheriff’s deputies and state Fish & Wildlife officers.”

California voters passed a ballot initiative legalizing recreational pot use and sales for adults in 2016. But more than five years on, the state’s illicit market continues to dwarf the regulated one. 

last year that “California’s strict regulations have led most industry operators to close shop, flee the state or sell in the state’s illegal market that approaches $8 billion annually, twice the volume of legal sales.”

from the libertarian think tank Reason offered a potential solution to bolster participation in the state’s legal cannabis market: scrap the cultivation tax.

According to the report, California could “bring in 123% more in total monthly cannabis-related tax revenue by 2024 by eliminating its cultivation tax.”

“High taxes are undermining California’s legal cannabis market,” saiad Geoffrey Lawrence, Reason Foundation drug policy director. “California could double monthly cannabis tax revenues by 2024 by eliminating the cultivation tax. Without the cultivation tax, our data show lower cannabis prices would increase sales of legal products, increasing the state government’s general sales tax revenue and more than replacing losses from the eliminated cultivation tax.”

Authors of the study urged California policymakers to reduce “retail excise taxes and [encourage] policies that could incentivize California’s local governments to stop banning the sale of legal cannabis products.” 

The authors also noted that in states like Oregon and Colorado, both of which also have a legal adult-use cannabis market, have a much higher rate of legal retailers relative to the Golden State.

In Oregon, it’s one legal retailer for ever 6,145 state residents; in Colorado, it’s one for every 13,838. But in California, according to the study, there is merely one legal weed retailer for every 29,292 residents.

Ed Knight

About The Author

Ed Knight

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.