Yo, what’s good fam? It’s ya boy Dan and I got some news for all my cannabis enthusiasts out there. The California Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) has been making moves to take down the illegal cannabis market. And they ain’t playin’ y’all.
From January 1 to March 30, the UCETF eradicated a whopping 52,529 plants, which is a 43% increase from Q4 of 2022 when they only took out 29,687 plants. They also served 21 warrants in Q1, compared to 30 in the last quarter of 2022, which is a 30% decrease. That ain’t too shabby if you ask me.
They even went as far as getting rid of 31,912 pounds of cannabis, which is a massive jump from the Q4 eradication of only 29,687 plants. Between the two quarters, there was a major increase of 39% in retail value for cannabis products seized ($32 million vs $52.6 million). And get this y’all, their most recent seizures earlier this year resulted in them seizing an 87% increase in money found during their searches. They took in $95,646 in Q1 compared to just $12,602 in Q4 of last year.
The Chief of the Law Enforcement Division, Bill Jones, said that the UCETF working with the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) has led to a higher rate of success and seizure. “As the DCC Law Enforcement Division focuses on illegal indoor cultivations, unlicensed dispensaries, and unlicensed manufacturing and distribution operations, the multi-agency, cross-jurisdictional approach of UCETF allows us to leverage the expertise of each participating department to disrupt a broader scope of illegal businesses,” said Jones. “Significantly improving our results speaks to our effectiveness and will help support the legal cannabis market.”
David Bess, Chief of Enforcement for California Department of Fish & Wildlife, also stated that the UCETF is making big moves. “This multiagency task force has hit the ground running, allowing partners with the opportunity to contribute to their area of expertise. UCETF has quickly made an impact on the illegal cannabis supply chain, which in turn is helping the regulated market succeed,” Bess said. “The gains and successes made by the task force speak directly to the efficiency and dedication of this multiagency collaboration and we expect to see this type of continued success throughout the year as UCEFT moves into outdoor cultivation enforcement season.”
The UCETF was created through California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2022-2023 budget to target illegal cannabis operations through a multi-department effort. It works closely with the DCC, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as the Homeland Security Division of Cal Office of Emergency Services. It also collaborates with numerous California agencies such as the California Highway Patrol, Department of Justice, Department of Public Health, Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and many more.
UCETF has been operating since summer 2022, but in October 2022 it announced its first major crackdown on a site in the San Fernando Valley. Governor Newsom said in a press statement at the time, “California is taking immediate and aggressive action to stop illegal cannabis and strengthen the burgeoning legal market throughout the state. By shutting down illegal grow sites and applying serious consequences to offenders, we are working to curtail the criminal organizations that are undercutting the regulated cannabis market in California.”
Since last year, UCETF has seized $84,652,875 in unlicensed cannabis products, eradicated 82,216 plants, and served 51 search warrants so far.
In August of 2022, the DCC announced that between 2021-2022, state law enforcement had seized more than $1 billion in illegal cannabis products. “These operations and the products they produce threaten consumer safety and the vitality of legal and compliant licensees,” the DCC wrote. “This important milestone was reached through close collaboration with local, state, and federal partners and furthers California’s efforts to go after activities that harm communities and the environment, including water theft, threats of violence, elder abuse, and human trafficking to name a few.”
But it ain’t all good news fam. There are some government agencies out there who are reviewing the negative impacts of the War on Drugs. Recently, the Reparations Task Force released a detailed report about reparations and recommended that compensation for community harms be provided as uniform payments based on an eligible recipient’s duration of residence in California during the defined period of harm (e.g., residence in an over-policed community during the ‘War on Drugs’ from 1971 to 2020). The task force will convene once more before submitting its final report on June 29.
So there you have it folks. The UCETF is making moves to take down the illegal cannabis market in California. But as always, there’s more work to be done in terms of repairing communities affected by the War on Drugs. Stay lit y’all!