California Targets Illegal Growers

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Man in cannabis farm California
Photo: Shutterstock

California targets illegal marijuana growers with new year-round task force

California is beefing up its crackdown on illegal marijuana growers by expanding its enforcement efforts to a year-round operation.

Originally a 90-day program that goes throughout the summer, Attorney General Rob Bonta’s new Eradication and Prevention of Illicit Cannabis task force will pursue the labor and environmental crimes that support a booming illicit pot market.

The new task force will still work with longtime partners — such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Land Management and the state’s National Guard — that it did during the previously seasonal Campaign Against Marijuana Planting that started in 1983.

But now the state’s Department of Justice prosecutors will work with state cannabis regulators and another relatively new task force, Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy, that was created by law in 2020 to pursue civil and criminal cases behind illegal grow operations.

So far this year, the seasonal program has seized 100 tons of processed marijuana, more than 180 weapons and about 33 tons of materials used to cultivate the plants.