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Mother Lode State Senator Pushing Bill To Crackdown On Illegal Pot Grows

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Sonora, CA – Mother Lode State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil has introduced Senate Bill 820, a proposal to increase stringent measures on illegal cannabis enforcement and allow for the seizure of property.

The bill aims to enhance public safety, protect the environment, and incentivize illegal growers to enter the legal market. It would allow law enforcement to seize specific property located at illegal marijuana cultivation sites after an inspection warrant has been obtained. It would not allow for vehicles worth less than $5,000 to be seized. Existing law authorizes the seizure of property used in the unlicensed manufacturing of hard liquor but does not apply to the unlicensed production of cannabis.

“We are almost seven years post-implementation of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, and still seeing the negative impacts of illegal cannabis cultivation on the legal market. Unlicensed cannabis farms put law-abiding growers, those who pay required fees and taxes, at a great disadvantage. Additionally, the impact on the legal market has had a disproportionate effect on social equity retailers,” said Senator Alvarado-Gil.

In 2021, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife eradicated 2.6 million illegal cannabis plants, seized 794 firearms, discarded over 32,000 pounds of trash, and removed 404 illegal water diversions. The bill aims to protect small businesses that cultivate less than 1,000 plants and workers employed by illegal growers. It would target unlicensed cultivation sites containing over 1,000 marijuana plants and enable law enforcement to dismantle the equipment used in those illegal grows as a deterrent for relaunching illegal operations.

Chris Lopez, Board Chair of Rural County Representatives of California, supports SB 820, saying, “The battle against the illicit cannabis market has been a persistent and formidable challenge for our counties. Struggling with limited resources, it is of utmost importance to equip local government with enforcement tools that can truly make a difference. SB 820 will disrupt the financial operations of unlicensed growers and reinvest those funds into bolstering licensed cannabis businesses.”

The bill would invest 15% of enforcement proceeds in the local jurisdiction and 85% of funds in the Cannabis Control Fund to support equity programs.

“SB 820 is a solution to ensure the integrity of the legal cannabis market and to encourage licensed cultivation. The Cannabis Equity Act is a pivotal piece of legislation to prioritize the historic nature of communities negatively impacted by cannabis criminalization. The intent of SB 820 is to disincentivize illegal grows while protecting dedicated dollars for the Cannabis Control Fund—social equity funds to reinvest in the legal, regulated cannabis market,” the senator added.

With 36 votes in favor of the bill, it has advanced from the Senate floor and now heads to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee and the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

  • Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil Pushes for More Stringent Measures on Illegal Cannabis Enforcement and Asset Forfeiture