Anyone conducting business in cannabis surely knows that under Federal law (Controlled Substances Act 21 U.S.C. 801) marijuana is designated as a Schedule I controlled substance due to the historical belief that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. So the risk is apparent that at any time Federal authorities could come and shut you down but don’t think that just because cannabis is legal in California, you do not have to worry about the State.
California law mandates that you can only sell cannabis if you have obtained a license to do so. These licenses being issued by the BCC. If you don’t have a license, then selling cannabis or transporting it in order to sell it is still a crime under H&S Code §11360.
State Authorities Raid Illegal Cannabis Operation In Carpinteria
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office announced in a press release that on January 31, 2019, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team concluded a four-month investigation into a local cannabis cultivator, operating under the name of Power Farms LLC, which is located just outside the City of Carpinteria. During this investigation, which spanned two counties and involved three separate search warrants, Detectives discovered one of the owners (whose name is being withheld due to the ongoing investigation) had provided false information during the county cannabis application process and was failing to follow proper shipping and manifest procedures.
The owner’s Los Angeles County home, was served with a search warrant. There, Detectives seized several unregistered firearms, two which were reported stolen, as well as approximately 60 pounds of processed and packaged marijuana taken from Power Farms. They also seized thousands of dollars in cash and other items of evidence.
This investigation culminated in the voluntary surrender of the owner’s state temporary cannabis license, which resulted in detectives from the Cannabis Compliance Team, Special Investigations Bureau, District Attorney’s Office, and Game Wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, eradicating and removing illegal cannabis from Power Farms as they no longer had a valid state permit to cultivate or possess commercial cannabis. Approximately 22,420 cannabis plants were eradicated from three separate green houses and approximately 1,420 pounds of dried / drying cannabis were seized.
Penalties For Selling Cannabis Without A License.
For most defendants, unlicensed sale or transport for sale of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For defendants under 18, it is an infraction. Also, giving away or transporting for sale up to 28.5 grams of cannabis without a license is an infraction.
But the sale/transport for sale of cannabis without a license to do so is a felony for the following defendants:
- Defendants who have a prior conviction for one of a list of particularly serious violent felonies, including murder, sexually violent offenses, sex crimes against a child under 14, or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or a sex crime that requires them to register as a sex offender;
- Defendants who have two or more prior convictions for H&S Code §11360 sale/transportation of cannabis;
- Defendants who knowingly sold, attempted to sell, or offered to sell or furnish cannabis to someone under 18; or
- Defendants who imported or attempted or offered to import into California, or transported or attempted/offered to transport out of California for sale, more than 28.5 grams of cannabis or more than four grams of concentrated cannabis.
In any of these scenarios, black market sale or transportation for sale of cannabis under H&S Code §11360 is punishable anywhere from two to four years in jail.
Transporting cannabis without intent to sell it, or giving cannabis away, is not a crime in California so long as BOTH of the following are true:
- You transport or give away not more than 28.5 grams of cannabis or eight grams of concentrated cannabis, and
- Any people you give cannabis to are 21 years of age or older.
What Should You Do?
You can count on other county governments coordinating resources like the Santa Barbara County Cannabis Compliance Team which since June 2018 focuses on unlicensed and illegal cannabis operations for the safety of the public.
Both civil and criminal penalties will apply to unlicensed operators so it is imperative that anyone cultivating, manufacturing or distributing cannabis on a commercial basis in California seeks a local and state license for their operations immediately, if they have not already done so. Protect yourself and your investment by engaging the cannabis tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) and other California locations. We can come up with tax solutions and strategies and protect you and your business and to maximize your net profits.