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Cannabis Taskforce Aggressively Combats Illegal Market

Building upon the momentum in the first quarter of 2023, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) seized more than $109 million in illegal cannabis in the second quarter (Q2) 2023. This total represents a 104 percent increase from the $52 million in unlicensed cannabis and cannabis products in Q1 2023.

Additional highlights from the period April 1, 2023, through June 30, 2023, include a 130 percent gain in the number of plants eradicated and a 375 percent increase in the number of firearms seized.

“This well-orchestrated taskforce continues to reach new heights on shutting down a variety of illicit operations that range from dispensaries to indoor grow houses to outdoor cultivations sites among other facets in the illegal supply chain,” said David Bess, Chief of Enforcement for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “These enforcement numbers speak volumes on the dedication, perseverance, and organization of this multiagency taskforce. I could not be prouder of what we are accomplishing as a team.”

“Our enforcement efforts are becoming increasingly diversified along the illegal cannabis supply chain as we served warrants on several unlicensed dispensaries in this quarter in addition to unlicensed cultivation operations,” stated Bill Jones, Chief of the Law Enforcement Division for DCC. “As the taskforce continues to evolve and the combined resources of our partners plays an even greater role in our operations, we will be disrupting the illegal market at several different points along their supply chain.”

UCETF is supporting the legal cannabis market by investigating and disrupting illegal grow sites as well as shutting down illegal manufacturing, distribution, and retail operations. By working closely with state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, UCETF’s enforcement actions protect consumer and public safety, safeguard the environment, and deprive illegal cannabis operators and transnational criminal organizations of illicit revenue that undercuts the regulated cannabis market in California.

“The Department of Toxic Substances Control brings its mission to safeguard public health and the environment to the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce, playing a crucial role alongside dedicated partners in promoting responsible growth of the cannabis industry,” said DTSC Chief Investigator, Hansen Pang. “Through our expertise in addressing environmental concerns, including contamination, hazardous waste, and banned pesticides, we collaborate to eliminate the adverse impact of the illegal cannabis market.”

In 2023 UCETF has seized $161,921,709.44 in unlicensed cannabis through the serving of 113 search warrants. The taskforce has also eradicated 173,499 plants and seized 23 firearms.

Created in 2022, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce has been charged by the Governor to better align state efforts and increase cannabis enforcement coordination between state, local and federal partners. The Taskforce is co-chaired by the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and coordinated by the Homeland Security Division of Cal OES. The taskforce includes more than two dozen local, state, and federal partners working together to disrupt the illegal cannabis market.