September 10, 2018, LA
After several months of the blanket legalization of marijuana in California, the crackdown against illegal businesses has picked up a momentum. Los Angeles authorities are leading the race with their activity against unlicensed cannabis ventures operating in the city. From the beginning of this year, the city law enforcement has charged more than 500 citizens for running unlicensed cannabis businesses.
In the last four months, the LAPD busted 150 cannabis businesses for working without proper licensing or running any other illegal activity. Consequently, the city authorities have charged hundreds of citizens for their involvement in unlawful cannabis operations. In total, the city administration has filed 120 criminal cases. According to LA authorities, the primary objective of the ongoing crackdown is to protect fledging legal cannabis operations of the city.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that illegal businesses cover every facet of cannabis operations. From cultivation sites to extraction facilities, stores, and delivery services, illegal activity has plagued every domain of the field.
Local courts started hearing the cases from May. Legal experts think that the conclusion of these hearings can be expected in October. The majority of caught businesses have specifically been charged for involving in unlicensed commercial marijuana activity. These charges can result in six months of prison time and a penalty of up to $1,000.
As of now, 21 of charged individuals have pleaded guilty. The court has dismissed 11 such cases. One person has been sent to a diversionary program, whereas 10 people are still waiting for the court’s final verdict.
The ongoing crackdown in LA is the part of implementing significant legislative overhaul approved by the state assembly earlier this summer. The crackdown is not just against businesses operating without pertinent licensing, but also against those licensed businesses that work without fully complying with the state and local regulations. For instance, authorities have also indicted licensed cannabis businesses that were not fulfilling all the security requirements (e.g. operating too close to education institutes and other restricted zones).
This year has been special for the Golden State in connection with cannabis because of the blanket legalization of the strain. The legal cannabis market in the state is just over eight months old. And to support the nascent industry, it is indispensable for the state authorities to draw a distinction between legal and illegal businesses. It is also important for the state to go after illegal cannabis businesses because they collectively evade millions of taxes.
It is important to note that the state gave six months to unlicensed cannabis business to come in the ambit of legalization and regulation. Sales of unregulated cannabis products were also allowed in that time period. But the majority of unlicensed ventures failed to complete respective licensing in the grace period.
After new regulations coming into effect, things have been drastically changed. Crackdowns against cannabis illegal facilities have become common. On the other hand, dispensaries across the state had to destroy the unregulated and untested marijuana products worth $350 million.
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