Riverside County Law Enforcement Seizes $1 Million in Illegal Cannabis, Mushroom ProductsThe Latest Marijuana News Today | HighTimes Magazine

The Latest Marijuana News Today | HighTimes Magazine

According to a press release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the raid occurred on May 4 around 5:30pm. The Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s Station Special Enforcement Team (SET) responded to a disturbance at the 1700 block of Production Circle, located within a business area that is home to other businesses off of Rubidoux Boulevard.

Multiple people attempted to flee the scene, but the sheriff’s department reports that many were detained. “Jurupa Valley SET deputies located evidence of an illegal/unlicensed marijuana dispensary and secured the location. Jurupa Valley SET deputies obtained a search warrant for the property and requested assistance from the Riverside Sheriff’s Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET),” the department stated.

On site, officers found a variety of illegal cannabis products. “During the service of the search warrant, deputies located approximately 115 pounds of processed marijuana, 10 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, 100 pounds of marijuana concentrate, 2,400 marijuana vapes, and 1,200 edible marijuana items. The estimated value of the seized items was determined to be over $1,000,000,” the department reported.

As of May 9, the investigation is still ongoing and no further information has been shared at this time.

Last summer, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) announced that between 2021-2022, law enforcement had seized more than $1 billion worth of illegal cannabis products. “This important milestone was reached through close collaboration with local, state, and federal partners and furthers California’s efforts to go after activities that harm communities and the environment, including water theft, threats of violence, elder abuse, and human trafficking to name a few,” the DCC stated. “These operations and the products they produce threaten consumer safety and the vitality of legal and compliant licensees.”

More recently in March, the DCC released its enforcement statistics for 2021 and 2022. During that time frame, search warrants increased from 62 in 2021 to 155 in 2022, with over 41,726 pounds of illegal product seized in 2021 and 144,254 pounds in 2022. 

Bill Jones, the DCC’s Chief in the Law Enforcement Division, explained the importance of continuing to target illegal operations. “Through each enforcement action our teams gain a better understanding of how these criminal operations work which helps us better focus our resources and amplify our results to protect the health and safety of all Californians,” said Jones. “I would like to thank the dedicated group of officers in our department who work closely with our law enforcement partners to make these operations successful. Together, we are cracking down on the illicit cannabis market and ensuring California maintains a well-regulated and legal marketplace that benefits Californians.” 

Additionally, the DCC reported that it destroyed 19,221 illegal cannabis plants in 2021, and 264,196 plants in 2022—a 1,274% increase.

The city of Riverside is one of many that are still working on establishing a regulatory framework in their respective areas. According to The Press Enterprise, the Riverside City Council recently approved an ordinance on Feb. 28 that would allow up to 14 cannabis retail permits. On March 1, a city press release shared statements from a few key individuals.

According to Councilmember Ronaldo Fierro, it’s high time Riverside kept up with the times. “Today’s long overdue decision to overturn the ban on cannabis retail was the result of a multi-year effort that included intensive community and stakeholder input,” said Fierro. “This is the first step in a pragmatic and sensible policy process that is centered around providing benefit and opportunity for all Riverside residents.”

Riverside Mayor Pro Tem Clarissa Cervantes also released a statement about cannabis finally moving forward in Riverside. “With a little over 18 months until the November 2024 ballot, we have the time we need to create a program that is socially equitable and ensures voters are informed about what the tax measure will do,” Cervantes said. “Riverside voters approved this measure years ago, and the Council voted to move forward with creating a pathway for safe access, and quality workforce opportunities.”

City staff will continue to develop a process for permit review and implementation, and plan to propose their plan to the Riverside City Council sometime this summer.

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