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The Era of Marijuana: Inside Look at Legal and Illegal Practices

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The marijuana market has changed dramatically since the passage of Prop 215 in 1996, and even in the past couple of years.

Law enforcement officials have centered their focus on the illegal grows destroying public lands, while patients and business innovators are embracing the medical allowances of the law.

In an Action News special report we explore what changes officials are seeing in the legal and illegal sectors, and how the two affect each other.

Dispensary owners believe their legitimate businesses are helping to drive the cartels out of state.

But illegal grows are still plaguing the north state, and remain a huge issue for marijuana eradication teams across the state.

Law enforcement officials from across the state are already preparing for a busy eradication season.

Commander of the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Michael Johnson says, "The state recognizes there's a problem and the Federal government recognizes there is a problem with marijuana growing, particularly on public lands."

Agents in Shasta County have already spotted several grows in the area.

Johnson says, "Part of the problem is we encounter armed personal out there and we want to make sure people are safe."

It's becoming unsafe for recreators too, as the cartels are taking over national forests.

"When people go out and use these public lands, they're in direct threat of encountering these people," says Johnson.

While these agents are risking their lives to take down the black market grows, medical marijuana dispensary owners, at least in Sacramento, are thriving.

Executive Director of Fruitridge Health and Wellness Caleb Counts says, "We went from a place in the City of Sacramento where they wanted to close down all the collectives. There was a lot opening up to us forming an organization, Sacramento Alliance of Collectives, working directly with the city."

Dispensaries like Fruitridge Health and Wellness are operating within city limits following strict guidelines and paying a 4% operations tax.

The state's top cannabis lobbyist Max Del Real says they're doing everything right.

"Here in Sacramento, we've won law enforcement's support they like working with us. We're the good players, we're doing it right, we're paying taxes, we're following the laws, we're creating jobs," says Del Real.

The Fruitridge Health and Wellness Collective prides itself on the sophistication of its establishment, they hope to bring that model to Chico, where it would be considered another legit business.

In the cities draft ordinance, two dispensaries would be allowed within city limits.

One would be just like Fruitridge with a closed loop cultivation system.

Counts says, "Places like the City of Chico in their draft ordinance have left room for two grows that would be permitted by dispensaries."

Del Real sees the movement as a financial opportunity for local governments.

"Non-profit businesses will come in, they'll create jobs, they'll support community programs and they'll bring business to town. There's real revenue opportunity in medical cannabis," says Del Real.

Dispensaries like Fruitridge believe their business practices are helping keep the black market at bay.

And they have a strict policy about where they get their medication from, not allowing any products from illegal grows.

But so far agents say, they're keeping busy.

Johnson says, "In the last two years, we cut over four-million plants. I'm talking just CAMP itself, statewide probably add another two to three million, which is a multi-billion dollar industry."

Clearly money is being made in both sectors, but with the right regulations, cannabis businesses hope to drive illegitimate practices out of the state.

Del Real also explained the potential future of medicinal marijuana in California.

Like Colorado, the state is looking into the possibility of the industry becoming for profit.

He believes that would mean far more tax dollars, competition and money that would feed back into social service and health programs.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: khsltv.com
Author: Britt Carlson
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Catamount Broadcasting
Website: The Era of Marijuana: Inside Look at Legal and Illegal Practices
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