$1 billion in illegal cannabis seized in California over past year, regulators say

Law enforcement actions in California have pushed the amount of illicit marijuana seized past the $1 billion mark since last summer, state cannabis authorities announced Thursday.

The enforcement time line coincided with the merger of three state agencies into one new organization tasked with overseeing the entire marijuana market.

“Over the last 13 months, the Department’s law enforcement team has led and assisted other agencies in the service of 232 search warrants, seized more than half a million pounds of illegal product, and eradicated over 1.4 million cannabis plants,” Nicole Elliott, the director of the California Department of Cannabis Control, said in a statement.

“This effort has removed more than $1 billion worth of potentially harmful and often untested cannabis products from the market and eliminated 120 illegal firearms from the hands of criminal enterprises.”

The agency also seized $2.3 million in cash since last summer, according to the release, and also recently awarded $20 million to several cities and counties to aid in setting up more legal marijuana stores.

The enforcement activities are part of a broader plan to bolster the legal marijuana market, Elliott noted.

The illicit cannabis industry in California has been a bane of legal operators for years because illegal sellers don’t pay state taxes or fees and, therefore, can undercut legitimate companies on price points.