California Judge Fines Illicit Cannabis Operators $128M

California Judge Fines Illicit Cannabis Operators 8M

<![CDATA[A group of four cannabis business entities and three individual owners in Southern California were issued $128 million in civil penalties Dec. 5 after admitting to illicit operations in court, according to a summary judgement ruling. The ruling by Judge Stephen Pfahler in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, stems from 2019 and 2020 investigations conducted by state authorities in Canoga Park, Calif. The defendants admitted to engaging in unlicensed commercial manufacturing and distributor cannabis activity on 527 separate days, according to the court ruling. Specifically, the investigations revealed that the unlicensed activity was tied to Vertical Bliss Inc., one of the four named entities, which had held licenses for commercial cannabis manufacturing and distribution in the state at that time, according to the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). State authorities from DCC’s predecessors—the DCC was formed in July 2021 by consolidating three former agencies—revoked Vertical Bliss’ licenses “swiftly” following investigations in November 2019. At the time, the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control and Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced a search of the unlicensed location in Canoga Park resulted in seizure of $21 million in illicit products, including 7,200 vape cartridges. In September 2020, the Bureau and CDPH filed a complaint seeking civil penalties from Vertical Bliss. With that filing, the state regulatory bodies also announced that seized records allegedly documented Vertical Bliss’ production of more than 3.3 million Kushy Punch Inc. brand gummies during an 18-month period, with an estimated value of $64 million. RELATED: California Dispensary Pulls Kushy Punch Products From ShelvesPfahler’s order for the civil penalties this week came after the defendants’ second consecutive failure to appear in court. “This ruling sends a strong message that the illegal cannabis market will not be tolerated in California,” DCC Director Nicole Elliott said in…

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Source : California Judge Fines Illicit Cannabis Operators 8M

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