California regulators tout seizure of $37 million in illegal marijuana

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State law enforcement in Northern California seized thousands of illegal marijuana plants and nearly 2,000 pounds of processed cannabis with an estimated value of nearly $37 million.

The operation, led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), confiscated 41,082 cannabis plants and 1,841 pounds of flower from an unlicensed cultivation operation in Oakland, an agency spokesperson told SFGate.

The regulator valued the unlicensed products at $36.9 million, although government estimates of cannabis raids are often inflated.

Still, it was one of the largest enforcement operations in the San Francisco Bay Area this year, the agency said.

No one was arrested, according to SFGate.

That’s a common development after cannabis seizures since serious marijuana-related criminal penalties – which used to serve as deterrents for some illegal operators – were thrown out in 2016 when California voters approved Proposition 64, the ballot measure that legalized adult use.

Meanwhile, a statewide task force targeting illegal cannabis released its third-quarter summary this week.

The Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF), which was created last year to coordinate enforcement efforts between state, local and federal agencies, said it seized $101.3 million in illegal cannabis in the latest quarter, down from $109.3 million in the second quarter.

Seizures included:

  • Nearly 100,000 cannabis plants, down from nearly 121,000 in the second quarter.
  • More than 61,000 pounds of illegal marijuana, down from more than 66,000 in the second quarter.
  • 69 firearms, up from 19 in the second quarter.

Interestingly, no cash was seized in the third quarter compared with nearly $224,000 in the second quarter.

“Over the past quarter, UCTEF conducted several highly coordinated operations that will disrupt the illegal supply chain and improve consumer and public safety,” Nathaniel Arnold, acting chief of enforcement for the CDFW, said in a news release.

“The task force focused on rural areas where illegal cultivators have been conducting unlicensed operations.”

Since its inception, the UCTEF has seized an estimated $295 million in unlicensed cannabis through 203 search warrants.

The taskforce has also eradicated 277,314 plants and seized 101 firearms.

The Department of Cannabis Control, the state’s primary marijuana regulator, has told MJBizDaily that California’s illicit market is bigger than its regulated one, but the agency hasn’t provided any monetary estimates, contrary to several media reports.