Alarmed that unlicensed cannabis sellers continue to dominate California’s pot market, state lawmakers are moving toward imposing steep new fines on businesses that provide building space, advertising platforms and other aid to illicit operations.
Those who provide assistance to illegal pot sellers would face civil fines of up to $30,000 per day under legislation approved unanimously by the state Assembly that is now pending in the Senate. A final vote on the proposal is expected sometime after lawmakers return to Sacramento this month.
Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) said she introduced the bill out of concern that as much as 80% of the cannabis sold in California comes from the illicit market, despite voters approving legal and licensed sales that began in 2018.
“Despite some success during the first two years of legalized cannabis sales, the illicit market has flourished,” Rubio said. “In addition to dwindling tax revenues, the underground market presents public safety and health threats to California.”
But the proposal has divided advocates for legal marijuana. The United Cannabis Business Assn., which represents licensed firms, asked Rubio to introduce Assembly Bill 2122, saying it “brings much-needed support in enforcement.”
Licensed retailers have struggled as many Californians continue to buy from the illicit market sellers, who charge lower prices because they do not pay state taxes or abide by costly state regulations, including testing and security requirements. [Read More @ The LA Times]