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Police in Santa Barbara County, California raided a large unlawful cannabis cultivation web site final week, with deputies discovering so many illicit vegetation the enforcement operation took 4 days to finish. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Workplace mentioned on Saturday that 350,000 cannabis vegetation had been destroyed and 20 tons of processed cannabis had been seized from the positioning.

A two-month investigation into the cultivation operation culminated on June 17 with search warrants being served in northern Santa Barbara County close to Buellton and two different websites, one in Santa Maria and one other in neighboring San Luis Obispo County, in response to Kelley Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Workplace.

“The cultivation space itself was situated on a property of roughly 187 acres of agricultural land, with simply over 60 acres of it getting used for the industrial cultivation of cannabis,” Hoover mentioned. “From the preliminary investigation, it appeared the positioning was used to repeatedly domesticate cannabis all year long, and on the time of the search, roughly 40 acres was presently rising, with a big quantity having been just lately harvested.”

A number of Businesses Take part in Raid

Deputies from the sheriff’s workplace, together with members of its Hashish Compliance Crew, had been assisted within the eradication operation by the county District Lawyer’s Workplace, the California Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the Military Nationwide Guard Counter Drug Job Drive. In all, 35 detectives, investigators, and wildlife officers took half within the raid, Hoover mentioned.

“This investigation was the results of complaints from the general public, suggestions, and knowledge supplied to the sheriff’s Hashish Compliance Crew,” Hoover famous.

The sheriff’s workplace has not launched the identify of the proprietor of the property the place the marijuana cultivation web site was situated and has not but situated or made contact with the proprietor, in response to media stories.

Authorities are investigating if a license to domesticate cannabis on the property had been obtained from the state fraudulently and if unlawful cannabis gross sales have occurred. Hoover mentioned that the case has been referred to the Santa Barbara County District Lawyer’s workplace for potential legal fees.

Are Licensed Cultivators Working Illegally?

To realize permission from the county to domesticate cannabis, which is required to acquire a license from the state, candidates needed to file an affidavit that stipulated the positioning had been used to develop medical marijuana previous to January 16, 2016. Nevertheless, there have been no necessities to supply documentation or in any other case show the declare made on the affidavit.

That loophole left the system ripe for abuse, in response to a report from the Los Angeles Occasions. One space resident, Blair Pence, mentioned the fields subsequent to his vineyard had been used to develop bell peppers till 2018, two years after operators claimed they had been cultivating marijuana on the positioning. Now, there are 30 acres of cannabis rising on the property.

“These guys are all mendacity by way of their enamel,” Pence mentioned.

Jacqueline McGowan, the director of native licensing and enterprise improvement at Ok Road Consulting in Sacramento, advised Excessive Occasions in an e mail that some licensed cannabis operators in Santa Barbara County could, actually, be working illegally.

“If a number of the county’s present cultivators signed this affidavit below penalty of perjury, they usually did actually lie and no prior cultivation had occurred, then the Sheriff could also be in the best right here when eradicating these licensed operations,” McGown mentioned. “I’d interpret that doc to imply that for those who had been cultivating previous to January 19, 2016, you’d be allowed to proceed cultivating below that equivalent footprint. Nevertheless, any growth can be prohibited except the county expressly allowed it.”