California begins enforcement against unlicensed marijuana businesses

California cannabis regulators have started to demonstrate there are teeth behind the state’s new rules.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • A 47-year-old Orange County resident was arrested Friday by local police for “unlawfully operating a marijuana dispensary” in Costa Mesa, according to a news release from the state Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).
  • The BCC worked together with the Costa Mesa Police Department, the state Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigations’ Cannabis Enforcement Unit, the state Department of Tax and Fee Administration and the Orange County District Attorney’s office on the case, which resulted in the arrest.
  • The man who was operating the shop in question – the Church of Peace and Glory – is Omid Delkash, and he was charged with four misdemeanor counts of  unlawful transportation, sale and furnishing of marijuana. He was arraigned Monday and bail was set at $150,000. Delkash has a pretrial hearing on Aug. 31 in Santa Ana.
  • “Citizen complaints” spurred a Costa Mesa police investigation into the unlicensed shop in May, and the BCC said it also received complaints about the facility.
  • If convicted, Delkash faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each of the four counts, meaning he could get up to two years behind bars and a $4,000 fine, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

BCC spokesman Alex Traverso said this is likely to be the first of many such enforcement actions.

“We have received hundreds of complaints to date regarding unlicensed activity,” Traverso wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily. “Safe to say (the Division of Investigations) is looking at more than 500 other complaints, so certainly more action (is) to come.”

The BCC in February began sending out cease-and-desist letters to hundreds of companies that it believed may be engaging in commercial cannabis activity without licenses.  But until now, the agency had not moved to crack down on lawbreakers.

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