Recently, the city of Los Angeles launched a major crackdown on illegal marijuana activities that include cultivation, extraction, manufacturing and delivery. The city has a penalty of six months’ incarceration and a fine of $1,000 for those convicted of engaging in any unlicensed commercial cannabis activity.
LA City Attorney Mike Feuer is quoted as saying that that his office was taking the enforcement action because it wasn’t good for some entities to go through the entire process of getting licensed while others come and distort the industry without playing by the same rules.
Currently, the city has about 165 licensed businesses that are engaged in retailing and delivering legal marijuana. However, many more continue to flout the rules and operate in the shadows, a problem that has persisted over the years.
Some industry players and activists have started to become frustrated by this unending cat and mouse game with black market operators and they are suggesting that the penalties for commercial marijuana activity in California aren’t stiff enough and an amendment should be made to the law so that serious or repeat offenders are charged under federal law which carries stiffer penalties.
For example, under federal marijuana laws, anyone found engaging in commercial marijuana activity that involves 100 kilos of cannabis is liable to imprisonment for up to 40 years and a fine that can be as high as $25 million.
These activists and industry players point to “Project Exile” started in Virginia in 1997 to stamp out gun-related crime within the state as an example. In that project, felons found with guns weren’t charged in state courts where the sentences were lighter.
Instead, they went before federal courts and received stiffer penalties which came with denying the suspects bail until their cases were heard and concluded. Felons couldn’t be released until they had served their entire sentence and they were jailed at least 1,000 miles away from the county where they lived. Library, commissary and mail privileges were also off the table for such convicts.
“Project Exile” was effective in reducing gun-related homicides and other gun-related crimes in Virginia, and a modification of this tactic is being suggested as a way to deal a decisive blow to the marijuana black market in California.
It isn’t certain whether the prosecutors in California would agree and come up with the necessary measures to implement this strategy, but experts think industry participants like Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTCQB: NUGS) and Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSX.V: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF) would welcome any measure that gets rid of the illegal cannabis industry players so that consumers only access licensed products that have undergone rigorous testing.
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