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California’s Cannabis Regulator Has Escalated Its Attack on the Illegal Market in Recent Years

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Mar 03, 2023   
Two hands, in handcuffs, hold a bag containing a cannabis bud.

Image credit: iStock

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Between 2021 and 2022, there was “significant growth” in the number of search warrants issued, arrests made, and illegal cannabis plants eradicated by California’s legal cannabis regulator.

In a notice published on March 2, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) said it had escalated its actions against illegal cannabis operators in recent years, in an effort to support the licensed cannabis market.

DCC-led search warrant operations increased from 62 (in 2021) to 155 (in 2022), a 150% increase. The DCC also seized over 41,726 pounds of illegal cannabis in 2021 and more than 144,254 pounds in 2022, a 246% increase.

Arrests more than tripled; 17 took place in 2021, 56 in 2022. And the DCC led operations that seized $243,017,836 worth of illicit cannabis last year, a 212% increase from the $77,772,936 seized in 2021.

“Through each enforcement action our teams gain a better understanding of how these criminal operations work which helps us better focus our resources and amplify our results to protect the health and safety of all Californians,” Bill Jones, chief of DCC’s Law Enforcement Division, said in a statement.

“I would like to thank the dedicated group of officers in our department who work closely with our law enforcement partners to make these operations successful. Together, we are cracking down on the illicit cannabis market and ensuring California maintains a well-regulated and legal marketplace that benefits Californians.”


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