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Brown proposes funding for investigators to crack down on California’s illicit marijuana market

Shant Damirdjian, left, assists customers at Cookies Los Angeles, which legally sells recreational marijuana under Proposition 64. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown proposed Friday to create five teams in the state attorney general’s office to investigate California’s black market for marijuana after firms that received state licenses complained they are being undercut by the illicit growers and sellers.

Brown allocated $14 million to “target illegal cannabis activity with an emphasis on complex, large-scale financial and tax evasion investigations,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

The teams also will focus on “reducing environmental and other crimes associated with the illegal cannabis market.”

Four investigative teams will be located in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno and San Diego. A fifth team, focusing on interdiction, will be based in Sacramento.

The budget proposal was welcomed Friday by state-licensed marijuana sellers who have said the illicit market is thriving and has a competitive advantage because it does not pay steep state taxes and license fees.

“We have consistently maintained, since full implementation of the licensing and regulatory framework in January, that additional enforcement is essential to addressing illicit activity,”  said Amy Jenkins, a legislative advocate for the California Cannabis Industry Assn.

She said the state needs to also address “barriers to entry” to the legal marijuana business, including what she described as high taxes and regulatory fees and an extreme lack of local authorization, “which are significant impediments to compliance in the regulated marketplace.”

The enforcement crackdown was also welcomed Friday by Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a former California Highway Patrol officer who has long been calling for action on the black market.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Patrick McGreevy on Los Angeles Times

Click Here

Published: May 11, 2018

Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News

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