California Takes Action to Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows and Transnational Criminal Organizations

California Takes Action to Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows and Transnational Criminal Organizations title=
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By the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW)

Taking aggressive action to protect communities, consumers and the environment alike, Governor Gavin Newsom has directed the creation of a new multi-agency, cross-jurisdictional taskforce of enforcement agencies designed to better coordinate agencies combatting illegal cannabis operations and transnational criminal organizations.

This new “Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce,” which has been actively working since late summer, is co-chaired by the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and is being coordinated by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) through its Homeland Security Division. The taskforce has been charged by the Governor to better align state efforts and increase enforcement coordination between state, local and federal partners.

“The State of California is committed to combatting illicit commercial cannabis activity which is causing pervasive harm to California communities, the environment, consumers and legal cannabis businesses,” said Nicole Elliott, Director of DCC.

“We cannot allow harmful, illicit cannabis operations to lay waste to the environment or threaten our communities,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the Cal OES and the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor. “We are bringing together the combined law enforcement resources of our state, local and federal agencies in a coordinated enforcement action against these bad actors and criminal organizations.”

“California has an abundance of public lands set aside for conservation, recreational use and the enjoyment of the people of this state,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Unfortunately, criminal organizations are impacting these areas by exploiting some of our most pristine public lands and wildlife habitats as grow sites for cannabis.”

Since its inception, the taskforce has been actively coordinating with federal, state, local and tribal agencies to disrupt this illegal market, including:

  • Combatting the non-linear threat of transnational crime that extends to areas of California beyond the border and into some of most rural parts of the state.
  • Establishing a new data sharing agreement which allows state and local enforcement officials to more broadly share information and cross-match data across jurisdictions.
  • Leveraging and better aligning the authorities and legal provisions of federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies in conducting search warrants, indictments and maximizing arrests and prosecution of perpetrators, while also maximizing administrative, regulatory and civil penalties for bad actors.
  • Disrupting human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers.
  • Interdicting illegal cannabis shipments crossing California’s borders.
  • Coordinating with local police chiefs, sheriffs and federal officials to deploy personnel and equipment where needed.

By investigating, removing and reclaiming illegal grow sites as well as shutting down illegal manufacturing, distribution and retail operations, and by apprehending and applying meaningful repercussions to offenders and traffickers, state, local and federal law enforcement agencies are protecting consumer and public safety, safeguarding the environment, and depriving illegal cannabis operators and transnational criminal organizations of illicit revenue that undercuts the regulated cannabis market in California.

Large scale, illicit outdoor cannabis cultivation can be harmful to the environment. Non-compliant cultivation sites can negatively affect wildlife, vegetation, water, soil, and other natural resources when they utilize chemicals, fertilizers and terracing, and even poach local wild animals. Illegal cannabis cultivation results in the chemical contamination and alteration of watersheds, diversion of natural water courses, elimination of native vegetation, wildfire hazards, poaching of wildlife and harmful disposal of garbage, non-biodegradable materials and human waste.

Untested cannabis products also pose safety hazards to consumers, while all illegal activity undercuts the regulated market and hurts licensed cannabis business owners.

In addition to the three agencies participating as partners in the taskforce include:

  • California Agricultural Labor Relations Board
  • California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency
  • California Environmental Protection Agency
  • California Police Chiefs Association
  • California State Sheriffs Association
  • California Highway Patrol
  • California National Guard
  • California State Transportation Agency
  • California Franchise Tax Board
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • California Department of Justice
  • California Department of Parks and Recreation
  • California Department of Pesticide Regulation
  • California Department of Public Health
  • California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
  • California Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • California Employment Development Department
  • California Department of Occupational Health and Safety
  • California Labor and Workforce Development Agency
  • California Government Operations Agency
  • California Water Resources Control Board
  • High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program
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ZeroHawk Oct 13, 2022 09:27 AM
California Takes Action to Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows and Transnational Criminal Organizations

yeah we dont need another committee, organization, government entity doing this. we have authorities that already handle this. nice waste of tax $ Gavin. While I support you on most of your choices, this one is not one that I support. This is a massive overreach and over reaction to appease some. Do we do this for people doing home brews and selling a few bottles to their friends? Do we do this for local farmers that aren't "registered" somehow? What about the food vendors that push their carts around the west side. Why isn't there a task force sent out to harass them? (not that I would ever want this!!! but it's the point....over reach). Californians grow weed. Cartels do not bring weed up here, they know it's legal here and they know the market is FLOODED with high quality and inexpensive weed. They are actively smuggling in heroin, meth, cocaine, and fentanyl. The "war on drugs" is over as far as weed goes, but you politicians just cant seem to acknowledge that and just let it go (or let it grow!)
Oh it's unregulated weed! So what. It's weed. It's a flower. Its the same as "non regulated" weed. No different.

edney Oct 14, 2022 09:53 PM
California Takes Action to Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows and Transnational Criminal Organizations

Weird how there is no market but cartels are growing marijuana in the Los Padres using pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, and are also growing out in the valleys of the mojave, stealing water from canals.
I think legal licensed cannabis is a good thing in that it is certified organic, pesticide and herbicide free.
As an emerging industry cannabis is over taxed, over regulated, so the cartels can sell at a price below legal marijuana and make a lot of money.
What a bougie SB attitude. "Who even buys illegal weed in CA anyway?"... ummm, people with less money than people in Santa Barbara have? Like most of San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial, Kern, Inyo, Kings, Tulare etc etc? Hillbillies without Teslas

edney Oct 15, 2022 12:43 PM
California Takes Action to Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows and Transnational Criminal Organizations

It is highly ironic that the organic food, non-GMO crowd is suddenly on board with genetically modified, pesticide, rodenticide, round up, slathered cannabis.
Its equally ironic that now the same crowd is anti- authority towards the beloved leaders and their regulations... over something they set on fire and inhale into their vital lungs.
Vast majority of conservatives realize that one of governments better functions is to protect people from products that are unsafe, we just see progressive governments as being progressive to a fault ie: they don't know how to turn off the progression and stop.
Vast majority of progressive realize that one of governments better functions is to protect people from products that are unsafe, we just see conservative governmets as being conservative to a fault ie: they don't know how to turn off the conservatism and start new things.

One of the greatest achievements of American government has been reducing the amount of American deaths caused by smoking cigarettes and tobacco, while still protecting Americans rights to what some people with a dim view of liberty here refer to as "freedumbs". I share that on the tobacco smoking freedom, but respect that our government has walked a very fine line.

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