Thousands of illegal grows in California could attract federal intervention


Pictured: An illegal grow site in California

According to state officials, 70 percent of all illegal cannabis crops seized by federal, state and local law enforcement in the nation originated in California.

It was estimated the state produced 13.5 million pounds of product last year, but residents only consumed 2.5 million pounds. Local law enforcement found 2,117 illegal grows in California last year and arrested 2,002 individuals involved in the operations.

DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson said the agency will become more aggressive with enforcement if state officials cannot solve the problem by themselves.

Assemblyman Tom Lackey introduced a bill last month which would appoint the California Highway Patrol as the lead investigative agency into the state’s black market. Illegal cannabis enforcement is currently handled by a mix of city and county law enforcement.

“One challenge we talk about in California is that we’ve had a medical cannabis market for decades, so it’s now introducing regulations at the state level that perhaps people haven’t been used to having to comply with,” said Lori Ajax, executive director of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. “It’s making sure that we get as many people as possible to come into the regulated market, and particularly those that are complying with their local jurisdiction.”