100,000 Cannabis Plants Seized In Historic San Francisco Bay Area Bust

Law enforcement officials in the San Francisco Bay Area seized more than 100,000 cannabis plants from more than a dozen unlicensed cultivation sites last week, taking down a “modern day bootlegging” operation in a series of raids that spanned two days. The massive bust carried out by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office across the East Bay resulted in the confiscation of millions of dollars in cash and cannabis plants representing tens of millions in potential illicit marijuana sales, according to law enforcement estimates.

“This is an organization operating outside the law and the protocols of governance of marijuana in California, unsanctioned and making millions in profits,” said Ray Kelly, public information officer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Kelly said that the illicit cultivation operations, which he described as “high tech” and “very sophisticated,” were “motivated by extreme profit and greed. It was a pure cash grab by the organizers of this enterprise.” Several suspects have been arrested during the raids, although officials have not released the names of those individuals taken into custody.

18-Month Investigation Led To Bay Area Raids

More than 100 sheriff’s office personnel and agents with the Alameda County Narcotics Task Force were involved in an 18-month investigation that culminated in last week’s raids, which saw search warrants served at 18 sites in East Oakland, Hayward, Castro Valley and San Leandro. The investigation was begun by narcotics detectives with the sheriff’s department after they received a tip about an illegal marijuana cultivation operation. The raids yielded about six tons of pot as well as Rolex watches and other jewelry.

“We’ve seized 12,000 pounds of processed, harvested marijuana product ready to go to sale,” Kelly said.

At one raided cultivation site in an Oakland warehouse, deputies seized as much as $10 million in cash along with evidence of a money-laundering operation. Kelly noted that the Bay Area cultivators could have avoided police action if it had been licensed by the state. 

“What’s crazy about this is had they applied for proper permits and fees and paid all their licenses and tax fees, we wouldn’t be here,” he said at a press conference at the Oakland warehouse on Thursday, where he displayed a bag he said contained $1 million in seized cash. “This is one of the largest grows we’ve ever seen in recent memory. It’s a massive operation.”

“These people are not doing that,” Kelly told Newsweek, referring to gaining the necessary permits to cultivate cannabis legally. “They’re operating similar to 1920s bootlegging operation. They’re very sophisticated, very organized. They’ve invested millions of dollars in their infrastructure. We estimate they have somewhere near half a million square feet of real estate grow space that they use.”

Kelly said that the operators of the illicit cannabis cultivation sites would purchase warehouses and other buildings, outfitting them with sophisticated growing equipment including computers and timers. The suspects would pay plumbers and electricians inder the table to install the equipment, and hired cultivators, trimmers, and transporters to produce and distribute the cannabis.

12 Truckloads of Pot Up In Smoke

The sheriff’s spokesperson said that 12 tractor-trailer loads of cannabis had been transported to a site in California’s Central Valley to be incinerated. He added that required taxes had not been paid on cannabis sales and that forensic accountants would be involved in the ongoing investigation. In a social media post on Wednesday, the sheriff’s office wrote that it would take several days to process the search warrant sites and haul away the contraband. 

“This organized and sophisticated network of individuals were making tens of millions of dollars in profit and avoiding California [marijuana regulations],” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. “We estimate at this time that we have seized over 100,000 plants and upwards of $10,000,000 in cash. In addition, there are millions of dollars in infrastructure, equipment, lighting, generators and supplies used to facilitate the grows.”

Kelly said that at least seven people have been arrested in the operation so far, and more arrests could be forthcoming. In addition to offenses involving illegal marijuana cultivation and money laundering, detectives are investigating if any environmental laws have be broken by the operation.

“The environmental impact that these locations cause is concerning,” he said. “We’re talking about fertilizers, chemicals, chemicals known to cause cancer.”

Despite the arrests and seizures, Kelly said that the potential profits from illicit cannabis are so high he doubted the operation would serve as much of a deterrent.

“There is nothing to stop them from doing it again,” he said. “It’s such a lucrative business.”

The post 100,000 Cannabis Plants Seized In Historic San Francisco Bay Area Bust appeared first on High Times.

California Congressman Bulldozes Hmong Cannabis Farmers’ Crops

When U.S. gymnast Suni Lee won gold at the Tokyo Olympics last month, she also won rare headlines for her people — the Hmong.

A highland people of the Southeast Asian nation of Laos, the Hmong famously fought in CIA-aided tribal militias against the communist insurgents in the 1960s. When the communists took power in 1975, the Hmong faced persecution, and many came to the United States as refugees. They mostly settled in the Great Lakes states; gold medalist Suni Lee is from Minnesota.

A large community landed in Fresno, Calif. Over the past generation, many have been making their way from Fresno up to rugged and remote Siskiyou County, abutting the Oregon border. With this move, the Hmong are putting their ancestral knowledge as a highland agricultural people to new use: They’re growing cannabis. But Hmong cannabis farmers increasingly find themselves stigmatized and criminalized by the political establishment in Siskiyou. In recent weeks, the situation has approached a boiling point.

Congressman in a Bulldozer

On July 20, social media users were treated to the bizarre spectacle of a congressman at the controls of a bulldozer, destroying unlicensed cannabis plots in Siskiyou. The videos were posted to YouTube by the office of Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA). In a blatant publicity stunt, the videos show LaMalfa behind the wheel of the ‘dozer back in May, joining in with Sheriff’s deputies to demolish an unlicensed greenhouse.

But, as Politico noted, advocates for local growers said the timing of the videos was problematic. The videos surfaced in the immediate wake of the death of Soobleej Kaub Hawj, the 35-year-old Hmong man who was shot dead by police on June 28 during the evacuation of local communities due to the devastating Lava Fire. Barely veiled racism was evident in LaMalfa’s patter to the camera. “I love the smell of diesel power in the afternoon. It smells like victory,” he says in one of the videos, riffing off a quote from Vietnam War movie “Apocalypse Now.” 

In a statement released with the four videos, LaMalfa accused the growers of being organized criminals with dirty practices: “Trash, illegally used pesticides, human waste and fuel cover the ground that has been scraped bare of organic matter with nothing but dust left,” he said. “Nothing about the organized criminal grows in Siskiyou County is legal. These grow sites are destroying our environment. Local wildlife is now nonexistent in the area. This level of criminality cannot be tolerated.” 

An attorney for the Hmong growers, J. Raza Lawrence, gave a statement to the press in response to LaMalfa’s stunt. He said the congressman’s YouTube proclamation “sounds like a divisive message that’s likely to inflame the tensions instead of making them better.”

Mounting Crackdown on Illicit Cultivation

There is much unlicensed cannabis growing in Siskiyou, where outdoor cultivation is entirely banned by county ordinance. On June 20, just a week and a day before the murder of Hawj, Sheriff’s deputies carried out raids in the Mount Shasta Vista area, uncovering and destroying nearly 8,000 plants, along with 52 pounds of processed marijuana. A firearm was also reportedly confiscated. 

Several people were detained, although only two were formally arrested. In the past seven weeks, the Sheriff’s Office said it had eradicated over 30,000 plants. The Sheriff’s Office has also been aggressively enforcing a new county ordinance that prohibits water trucks from delivering to suspected grow sites. Citing the long drought conditions in the region, it additionally places restrictions on use of pumped groundwater in off-parcel plots.

Its passage in May also sparked a protest by local Hmong in Yreka. Demonstrators held signs reading “We need water,” “Stop discriminatory harassment,” and “Asian American lives matter.” Activists said the ordinance specifically targeted Hmong properties — and that it was passed by the Board of Supervisors with racist intent. This is of course denied by Sheriff LaRue. 

Hawj was originally from Kansas City and had moved to Siskiyou recently to help his family. It hasn’t yet been determined if he was growing cannabis, and of course it is unknown how many of the county’s some 4,000 Hmong are involved in cannabis cultivation.

Protests in Yreka

Siskiyou’s usually sleepy county seat of Yreka saw a rare protest demonstration, as hundreds of Hmong and their supporters gathered in the streets July 17 to demand justice for Hawj. A new group called Siskiyou Hmong Americans United 4 Justice organized the vigil and march through downtown Yreka. 

“We are right now facing racism against our community; myself, I am Hmong, all our people here are Hmong people,” activist Paula Yang told local KOBI-TV. She drove up from Fresno to participate in the rally.

“We don’t even know where our deceased, our loved one, is at. It’s been 20 days,” she added with clear anguish. “Typically, in my culture, we have to bring our deceased home so we can do a proper burial.” 

Another Hmong community activist, Zurg Xiong, launched a public hunger strike on the steps of the Yreka courthouse. In a social media statement released about the strike, he says,  “I’m giving a voice because we’ve been denied a voice.”

Xiong broke his fast after 19 days on July 23, when California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced he would open an investigation into the killing of Hawj.

The post California Congressman Bulldozes Hmong Cannabis Farmers’ Crops appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Friday, May 29, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, May 29, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Federal Judge Gives Arkansas Marijuana Legalization Activists A Boost With Signature Gathering Ruling (Marijuana Moment)

// Nevada reviewing alleged campaign illegalities by marijuana MSO MedMen (Marijuana Business Daily)

// States With Medical Marijuana Laws Saw 20% Drop In Some Opioid Prescriptions (Marijuana Moment)


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// Cresco Labs Q1 Revenue Grows 26% Pro Forma from Q4 to $66.4 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// USDA Approves Hemp Plans For U.S. Virgin Islands And Four Indian Tribes (Marijuana Moment)

// British Columbia weighs online sales, delivery for cannabis stores (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Legal cannabis contributes CA$2.3 billion to crop receipts in Canada (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Medical cannabis sales in West Virginia delayed another year (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Scientific Review Concludes That Cannabis Consumers Are at No Greater Risk of Occupational Injuries (NORML Blog)

// San Diego Cops Employ New Black Market Raid Strategy: Destroy Entire Pot Shop (Merry Jane)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Friday, May 29, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, May 29, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Federal Judge Gives Arkansas Marijuana Legalization Activists A Boost With Signature Gathering Ruling (Marijuana Moment)

// Nevada reviewing alleged campaign illegalities by marijuana MSO MedMen (Marijuana Business Daily)

// States With Medical Marijuana Laws Saw 20% Drop In Some Opioid Prescriptions (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Natural Order Supply, one of the nation’s premier cannabis cultivation supply companies dedicated to streamlining cultivation and helping industrial hemp farmers calculate their price-per-plant cost. They have everything from lights to harvest supplies to cultivation advice!


// Cresco Labs Q1 Revenue Grows 26% Pro Forma from Q4 to $66.4 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// USDA Approves Hemp Plans For U.S. Virgin Islands And Four Indian Tribes (Marijuana Moment)

// British Columbia weighs online sales, delivery for cannabis stores (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Legal cannabis contributes CA$2.3 billion to crop receipts in Canada (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Medical cannabis sales in West Virginia delayed another year (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Scientific Review Concludes That Cannabis Consumers Are at No Greater Risk of Occupational Injuries (NORML Blog)

// San Diego Cops Employ New Black Market Raid Strategy: Destroy Entire Pot Shop (Merry Jane)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Andrew Taylor/Flickr

Monday, November 4, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Monday, November 4, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Mexican Supreme Court Grants Marijuana Legalization Deadline Extension (Marijuana Moment)

// California authorities found and destroyed $1 billion worth of marijuana plants (CNN)

// Mass. medical marijuana patients say Baker lacks authority to ban cannabis vapes (Boston Globe)


These headlines are brought to you by MJToday Media, publishers of this podcast as well as our weekly show Marijuana Today and the most-excellent Green Rush Podcast. And check out our new show Weed Wonks!


// House Panel Votes To Let Students With Drug Convictions Keep College Aid (Forbes)

// Michigan starts taking recreational marijuana applications (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Two more marijuana facilities can start growing recreational weed, the state says, bringing total to 9 (Chicago Tribune)

// Iowa medical marijuana board backs THC purchase limit, PTSD as qualifying condition (KPVI 6 NBC)

// Top CDC Official Suggests Legal Marijuana Regulations Can Mitigate Vaping Injuries (Marijuana Moment)

// Bernie Sanders Outlines Three-Step Marijuana Plan To Block Big Corporations From Controlling Market (Marijuana Moment)

// Humboldt County cannabis industry strained after PG&E outages (Times Standard)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
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Photo: Oregon Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Outspoken Cannabis Activist Chris Enns Charged in Connection With Halifax Dispensary Raids

An outspoken Halifax medical marijuana advocate and shop owner is now facing more charges after a raid of two cannabis dispensaries last month. Halifax Regional Police say Christopher Enns turned himself in Wednesday morning. The 34-year-old from East Chezzetcook is facing charges of possession of cannabis for the purpose of distributing and selling, possession for the use in production or distribution of illicit cannabis, and possession of property obtained by crime. – Read the entire…

Tuesday, July 23, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Top Congressional Chairman And Presidential Candidate File Marijuana Legalization Bills (Forbes)

// Mark Kleiman, who changed the way we think about crime and drugs, has died at 68 (Vox)

// Leading Legalization Group Unveils Report On Marijuana Policy Wins In 2019 So Far (Marijuana Moment)


Today’s headlines are brought to you by our friends over at Eaze.com, California’s top one stop website for legal marijuana delivery. If you live in the golden state, swing over to Eaze.com to see if they are active in your area. With deliveries taking place in less than an hour, it’s never been easier to get legal California marijuana delivery. And of course, if you don’t live where Eaze delivers, you can still benefit from all the useful bits of industry insight and analysis they’ve developed using their properly aggregate and anonymized sales data stream.


// Miami Cops Can No Longer Use Just ‘Weed Odor’ as Excuse to Search Cars (Merry Jane)

// Marijuana Legalization More Popular Than Free College And $15 Minimum Wage, Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)

// California Police Confiscate 47 Tons of Weed, Bust Hash Lab in Black Market Raid (Merry Jane)

// Dixie CEO Chuck Smith Says He Expects To Be In 8 States Very Soon (Green Market Report)

// California legislative update: Several key cannabis bills still hang in balance (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Give Marijuana Businesses Access To Insurance Coverage (Marijuana Moment)

// Hundreds Of Pet Owners Tell FDA That CBD Is Helping Their Furry Companions (Marijuana Moment)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
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Photo: Patrick Thibodeau/Flickr