Los Angeles marijuana defense attorneys need to stress that while marijuana is now legal for recreational cultivation, processing, distribution and use, that doesn’t mean these things are 100 percent lawful. Although it’s true penalties for certain crimes are more lax, offenses more likely to result in fines than prison time, the latter isn’t impossible.
Last month, authorities announced a 39-county marijuana grow sting, busting 250 unlawful cannabis cultivation sites, resulting in the arrest of more than 50 people and seizure of some 614,000 plants. State and local law enforcement said such action was necessary to halt the (apparently) still booming black market. These sites are arguably a threat to registered, licensed operators, who are required to pay hefty taxes and undergo stringent product testing to ensure safety.
Los Angeles marijuana defense attorneys recognize that legalization of marijuana in California has made the drug far more accessible, and the hope was always that black market sales would halt or at least dwindle. However, there have been an increasing number of grow house busts across the state in recent weeks.
California Law Enforcement Cracks Down on Illegal Cannabis
Among the marijuana cultivation raids in recent weeks:
- In Santa Barbara County, authorities seized some 400,000 marijuana plants allegedly being grown illegally, spread among traditional crops. The county sheriff said it was the largest grow house bust in the county since the launch of the state’s new regulated market. Also in Santa Barbara County, five other allegedly illegal cultivation sites were discovered with a combined total of 14,000 plants. At the largest site, one of the two growers arrested reportedly attempted to get a marijuana cultivation license, but authorities said the application was denied due to applicant providing false information. Now, he and his co-defendant are facing hefty fines and may be barred from ever opening an illegal shop.
- Investigators in Kern County, where recreational marijuana is illegal by ordinance despite state law, raided three cannabis dispensaries, arresting five men and confiscating plants, flower, edibles packages and concentrates. Two other dispensaries in the same county were raided, resulting in seen arrests and seizure of marijuana, concentrates, edibles and plants.
- In Humboldt County, nearly 2,140 marijuana plants were seized at a grow site, and the two accused in the case are facing fines of $121,000 per day it was in operation.
- Troopers with the California Highway Patrol arrested an alleged black market runner after stopping him on the highway and discovering 850 pounds of marijuana, headed for illicit retail sales.
- In Sacramento County, four were arrested and nearly 530 plants seized in late August.
California Health and Safety Code 11359 is the provision of state law that covers criminal penalties for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Anyone NOT licensed by the state and/ or county as a dispensary as required can face arrest. In most cases now, this is a misdemeanor, punished by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. However, note that if you are a repeat offender, have a record with serious/ violent crimes or intend to unlawfully sell marijuana to minors, it’s boosted to a felony.
Working early on with an experienced Los Angeles marijuana defense attorney is your best chance at a favorable criminal case outcome.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
California county seizes 400,000 cannabis plants at one unlicensed grow, Nov. 2, 2018, Marijuana Business Daily
More Blog Entries:
California Cannabis Intellectual Property Licensing Just Got More Complicated, Oct. 31, 2018, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Blog