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Over $312M in unlicensed cannabis seized by task force

In an ongoing effort to protect public safety, safeguard natural resources, and advance the integrity of the licensed cannabis market, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) seized more than $312 million in unlicensed cannabis during its first calendar year of operation.

Among the highlights from the operations in 2023 was the seizure of almost 190,000 pounds of illegal cannabis, the eradication of almost 318,000 plants and the seizure of 119 illegally-possessed firearms.

“California is effectively decreasing the illegal cannabis market by leveraging the strengths and knowledge of over 20 state agencies and departments alongside our local and federal partners. The UCETF’s progress in 2023 reflects California’s ongoing commitment to disrupting and dismantling illegal cannabis activity,” stated Director Nicole Elliott of Department of Cannabis Control. “I look forward to working with all our partners in 2024 to build on this progress.”

“Since its inception in late 2022, California’s Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce has hit the ground running with year-round operations that spanned from the Oregon state line all the way down to San Diego,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’ve sent a strong message that illegal operations that harm our natural resources, threaten the safety of workers, and put consumer health at risk have no place in California. While there is more work to be done, we made progress last year and I look forward to going further alongside our county, state, and federal partners.”

For the fourth quarter of the year, 2023, figures show there were 24 search warrants served with over 13,393 pounds of cannabis seized. For the calendar year, 2023, those numbers were 188 search warrants served and more than 189,854 pounds of cannabis seized.

Retail value seized in the fourth quarter was more than $22.2 million and for the year, more than $312 million. A total of 26 firearms were seized in the fourth quarter, 119 for the year and the cannabis plants eradicated was more than 20,300 in the fourth quarter of the year, over 317,800 for the full year. In addition, money seized was $35,195.25 in the fourth quarter, and $223,809 for the calendar year.

In addition to releasing the quarter four and yearly totals for 2023, the taskforce announced the top five counties for enforcement activity (according to value of cannabis seized) in calendar year 2023. They were: Alameda $77,828,338.50; Siskiyou $70,747,875.00; Mendocino $48,073,113.00; Los Angeles $28,317,139.69; and Kern $21,578,438.25.

Since inception, UCETF has seized $317,578,792.29 in unlicensed cannabis through 218 search warrants. The taskforce has also eradicated 347,321 plants and seized 128 firearms.

Created by Governor Newsom in 2022, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce has been charged by the Governor to further align state efforts and increase cannabis enforcement coordination between state, local and federal partners. 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 harms consumers and undercuts the regulated cannabis market in California.

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 the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The taskforce includes more than two dozen local, state, and federal partners working together to disrupt the illegal cannabis market.