Slowly but surely, California’s recreational and revised medical marijuana regulations will become state law. Pot shops will begin selling weed to anyone over 21 with a valid ID, and the state’s cultivators will suddenly become members of a hugely booming, fully legal industry. But while the Golden State is expected to become the world’s largest legal weed market almost overnight, there are still plenty of black market growers and sellers who aren’t ready to come out of the shadows. In Sacramento, where legislators have spent months debating legal weed’s impending regulations, city officials are preparing to knock down doors and chop down plants of the growers still trying to skirt Prop. 64.
According to the Sacramento Bee, City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, Assistant City Manager Arturo Sanchez and the Sacramento Police Department are spearheading the program to stop black market cannabis cultivators after a number of cannabis-related crimes became big news in California’s capital city.
In calling for an “urgent plan of action” to curtail the crime, Councilwoman Ashby cited an instance earlier this year in which two people were killed outside of a suspected grow house, and two other incidents from last month when, on separate occasions, cars drove straight through the garage doors of homes housing illicit grow ops. The councilwoman claims that there are over 100 black market grow houses in her district alone, with over 1,000 suspected throughout the city.
“I am not willing to allow the crime that happens around those homes to continue without taking extreme measures,” Ashby said.
To combat the unregulated reefer, Sacramento PD is looking into pulling three sergeants and 12 officers to create a new team focused specifically on shutting down black market cannabis. In the meantime, though, SPD’s SWAT team will take on the grow op raiding responsibilities. If the highly trained officers can make a significant dent in the city’s illicit cultivation community, city officials are hopeful they won’t need a year-round team dedicated to the black market.
Sacramento Police say they responded to 76 marijuana-related robberies in the last year, with the fire department handling 11 of their own pot-fueled incidents.
But while the City Council and police worry about illicit grows impeding on the regulated market, it is important to consider the dangers of police raids, especially when executed by officers not specifically trained to deal with the complications of California’s cannabis laws. A move was made to try and reel in Sacramento’s home-grow regulations back to the state-recommended rule of six plants per household, but for now, Sac Town residents are allowed up to 400 square-feet of indoor grow space, with no specific plant number regulations.
The square footage regulations could lead to complications with the expected raids, putting more pressure on the city to produce evidence of illicit activity outside of a seemingly too-big grow.
Still, complications or not, city officials expect black market grow busts to begin by the end of the month.