At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a post entitled “California Gives Up on the Illegal Cannabis Market” in which I went into detail about the state’s failure to meaningfully address the festering illegal market. More recently, I wrote about “Another California Cannabis Enforcement Program That Won’t Work.” As the name suggests, this post was about yet another performative effort by the state to create an enforcement program that won’t be widely used and won’t work.
If you are interested in California’s massive illegal market and some thoughts I have on how to combat it, I suggest you read those posts. I don’t intend to do a full-on deep dive into those issues in this post. Instead, I want to highlight yet another example of how poorly the state is doing here.
Yesterday, October 5, 2023, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) published an announcement with the header: “Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce strategically disrupted illegal market by seizing over $101M worth of unlicensed cannabis products, seized 363% more firearms in Q3 2023”. And the first line of the announcement reads “Focusing on larger targets, the taskforce achieved similar results from previous quarter through serving 35 percent fewer search warrants.” (Italics were in the original, I added the bold.)
Wow, that sounds great right? Well, read the fine print. Specifically this chart:
|Search Warrants Served
|Pounds of Cannabis Seized
|Retail Value of Cannabis Products Seized
|Cannabis Plants Eradicated
Let’s break this down. The organization of this chart (left to right) almost makes it look like the numbers went up. However, Q3 comes before Q2. I won’t speculate as to why this was organized this way, but at the end of the day literally all of the numbers got worse from Q2 to Q3 with the exception of firearms seized.
Specifically, Q3 of 2023 say a 1/3 reduction in the amount of search warrants served. Over a 90 day period, 60 warrants were served. That’s 20 per month. For the whole state. During that time, less cannabis was seized, and the retail value went down accordingly. Fewer plants were eradicated. And no money (!) was seized at all.
The only metric that went up was the number of illegal firearms that were seized. Don’t get me wrong, getting illegal guns of out of the hands of alleged criminals is a good thing. But to say that this will make a dent in the illegal market or even that these efforts achieved “similar results” to last quarter is, to put it mildly, a joke.
This most recent confirms what I’ve said for a very long time: the state doesn’t really care about the illegal market. I don’t believe that the best way to end the illegal market is through enforcement but through de-regulation and making it easy to participate legally. But if the state won’t do that and won’t do enforcement, is it any wonder why the illegal market dominates?