Even with recreational weed fully legal in California, illegal marijuana businesses continue to thrive throughout the state. And authorities are not putting up with it anymore. According to reports coming out of The Golden State, authorities are beginning to respond to these illegal operations more forcibly. With California cracking down on illegal marijuana businesses, questions about the transition toward a legal cannabis market remain.
California’s Illegal Weed Businesses
California has pretty much always been one of the hottest weed spots in the nation. It’s home to legendary growing activity and has long been a relatively safe place to consume as many ounces of cannabis as one so desired.
When weed was illegal in California, the state had a strong black market for cannabis. In the age of legal weed, black market activity continues to live on in various ways. According to new reports coming from local media, there are still tons of illegal marijuana shops operating throughout the state.
For example, the Los Angeles Police Department claimed that there are hundreds of such shops in L.A. alone.
“We have several hundred, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 to 300, of what we believe are these unlawful and illegal establishments operating throughout the city,” said LAPD Deputy Chief John Sherman.
It appears that there is a wide range of factors making these shops illegal. For example, some of them may be operating without proper licensing. Similarly, some have been accused of failing to follow proper security protocols.
Whatever the offense, California law enforcement agencies appear to be cracking down on weed businesses they deem illegal. Last week, authorities in L.A. raided a shop that they said was operating illegally. During the raid, they arrested three people, one of whom was a security guard with an unlicensed firearm.
So far, cops in L.A. have identified 18 businesses that they say are definitely operating illegally.
Final Hit: California Cracking Down on Illegal Marijuana Businesses
The exact motives behind this crackdown are unclear. It could be a backlash against the growing acceptance and prevalence of cannabis throughout the state now that recreational weed is legal. As weed becomes legalized in more and more places, it often creates tension between those in favor of legalization and law enforcement who see cannabis as a problem.
On the other hand, the crackdown could be part of the sometimes-messy transition toward a fully legal cannabis market. When weed becomes legal, it eliminates much of the need for a black market. Despite this, the black market continues to exist, often falling under heightened scrutiny by law enforcement.
Whatever the case, the cannabis scene in California is in the middle of big-time changes. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since the 1990s.
But it wasn’t until 2016 that voters approved the legalization of recreational weed. The state’s recreational program, including full-scale recreational retail, went into effect the beginning of this year.
These legal changes have introduced a number of interesting tensions. Most recently, the city of Berkeley became a sanctuary city for recreational weed. A resolution that passed earlier this week stated the city of Berkeley will not cooperate with federal efforts to enforce laws against cannabis.
The decision comes largely in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In January, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, an Obama-era policy that told federal agencies to take a “hands-off” approach to dealing with state cannabis laws.
Sessions’ move has worried lawmakers, business owners, and cannabis consumers, many of whom fear that it could open the door to a federal crackdown on all weed-legal states.