California authorities raid illegal cannabis ‘farmers market’

Just Released! Get realistic market forecasts, state-by-state insights and benchmarks with the new 2024 MJBiz Factbook member program, now with quarterly updates. Make informed decisions.

An illicit gathering of marijuana buyers and sellers in Fresno, California, was broken up by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control and the city’s police department.

The action this week might have been the first of many raids on so-called “smoke sessions” that typically function as underground cannabis farmers markets.

“That’s how it was described to me as well,” Alex Traverso, the BCC’s communications chief, said when asked if it the gathering was akin to a farmers market.

He confirmed that at least seven different vendors were identified during the July 14 raid.

In addition, authorities seized almost 40 pounds of marijuana flower, nearly 94 pounds of cannabis concentrates, a little over $2,000 in cash and six illegal firearms.

The value of the confiscated goods totaled more than $700,000, the BCC posted on its Twitter account.

Neither the BCC nor the Fresno County District Attorney’s office had any immediate information regarding whether any arrests were made.

Traverso said a complaint filed with his office led to the raid, which is an indication that more actions of this type are likely amid a “broadening of the overall enforcement efforts.”

“This shows a shift away from the norm” on enforcement against the state’s illicit market, Traverso said.

“These things – along with illegal delivery – are a little harder to crack down on, because you don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront that’s advertising,” he added.

He was referencing the “smoke sessions,” which are typically informal gatherings of unlicensed marijuana growers, peddlers and consumers.

“Even if these things are flying under the radar, it shows that they’re not, because people will find them and report them,” Traverso said.