California is a big state with big problems when it comes to black market cannabis. Although legal adult-use sales began five months ago in the Golden State, experts estimate that more than three-quarters of sales in the state are still illicit. But a joint effort between federal and state law enforcement which was announced yesterday seeks to stem the tide of illegal pot.

Tuesday, it was announced that the feds are earmarking $2.5 million to target illegal grows in the state. This is welcome news for the state and for those establishments which are trying to operate within the state’s regulatory framework.

The extensive black market in California is a problem for multiple reasons.

First, black market sales hurt the businesses that are trying to work within the state’s regulatory framework. Second, illicit sales substantially cut into the state’s projected tax revenue. (According to the experts, tax revenue from cannabis sales in the state are as much as 40 percent below original estimates.)

Third, the legal cannabis industry in the state has created more than 150,000 jobs, according to Leafly, and could potentially support the creation of hundreds of thousands more if it weren’t for the fact that more than three quarters of sales in the state are illicit.

And finally, black market growers are causing an environmental catastrophe. Unrestrained by the state’s regulations concerning cultivation practices, copious amounts of banned, highly toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in these operations are harming wildlife and finding their way into the state’s water supplies.

Carbofuran Use Up Nearly Fivefold

A highly toxic pesticide called Carbofuran, which is banned in the U.S., is being used extensively by illegal grows. This poses a serious threat, not just to wildlife, but to humans as well.

Carbofuran, typically smuggled into the state from Mexico, is so highly toxic that a mere quarter of a teaspoon can kill a 300-pound (136-kilogram) bear, claims Mourad Gabriel, executive director and senior ecologist at Integral Ecology Research Center.

According to Gabriel, Carbofuran is being used at 72 percent of illegal grow sites in the state. That number is up from 15 percent in 2012 — a fivefold increase.

Intended to be heavily diluted for use as a pesticide, the poison is often only slightly diluted by black market growers.

Nearly two-thirds of California’s water supply flows through national forests where many of the largest illegal operations are being uncovered. And downstream from these grows, researchers are finding that 40 percent of water samples taken are contaminated.

Welcome News For Stakeholders

Many stakeholders within government and the industry in California have been hoping for such a crackdown for some time. And it’s not just a California problem. It’s estimated that the state produces eight times as much marijuana as its residents can consume. Much of that ends up creating similar problems for other U.S. states.

Back in early 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions began campaigning to dismantle federal protections offered by the Cole Memo and the Rohrabacher Blumenauer amendment. Those concerned were asking why the feds were targeting the state’s legal industry when there was so much work to be done in tackling black market cultivation and trafficking — much of which is being funded by drug rings in China and other countries.

Now, it seems those voices are being heard and heeded by the DOJ.

US Attorney McGregor Scott, at a press conference announcing the $2.5 million project, said, “The reality of the situation is there is so much black market marijuana in California that we could use all of our resources going after just the black market and never get there. So for right now, our priorities are to focus on what has been historically our federal law enforcement priorities: interstate trafficking, organized crime, and the federal public lands.”

Federal law enforcement agencies are earmarking $2.5 million to target illegal grows in California. This is welcome news for the state and for those establishments which are trying to operate within the state’s regulatory framework.

Federal law enforcement agencies are earmarking $2.5 million to target illegal grows in California. This is welcome news for the state and for those establishments which are trying to operate within the state’s regulatory framework. #california #blackmarket #doj #marijuana #cannabis


This article by Cannabiz News Editor Rick Schettino originally appeared on PotNetwork.com.