Attorney General Rob Bonta announces new CAPP program to help municipalities deal with illegal commercial cannabis activities.
Fresno will be the first city to take part in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Cannabis Administrative Prosecutor Program (CAPP).
When announcing the program on Tuesday, the DOJ noted CAPP will provide partner cities and counties DOJ legal support to address illegal cannabis activity through administrative enforcement and nuisance abatement. Essentially, the city or county signs on to ramp up local enforcement and then the DOJ provides extra resources. The DOJ will provide educational materials for locals to build out their programs and provide mechanisms for evidence collection in future statewide enforcement operations that have been umbrellaed under the new Effort to Prevent Illicit Cannabis.
As for enforcement actions, CAPP will provide attorneys to act as administrative prosecutors before local hearing bodies when necessary. CAPP also will provide bodies in general to those smaller municipalities that are just too strapped for cash to do anything. This will include assisting in facilitating administrative procedures and assisting with logistical issues through the use of private process servers, contract code compliance officers, and abatement contractors.
“Complex problems require creative and collaborative solutions,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “This innovative new program allows my office to better support local governments in our collective efforts to tackle illegal cannabis activities, and we are confident that this new cost-effective program will have dramatic and measurable effects. I thank the City of Fresno for their partnership and look forward to working together through this new approach to hold participants in the illegal cannabis market accountable.”
Bonta’s office noted the cooperative effort with local jurisdictions leverages the administrative enforcement powers of cities and counties. The DOJ also noted this work being done at the local level will supplement the work of the Department of Cannabis Control and the Governor’s Unified Cannabis Enforcement Task Force. The task force is led by the Department of Cannabis Control and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Fresno’s city attorney is excited to be the test case.
“Our partnership is aimed at assisting the local legitimate cannabis industry and help grow Fresno’s tax base,” said Fresno City Attorney Andrew Janz. “It is my hope that this, first-of-a-kind joint venture between the Fresno City Attorney’s and the Office of the Attorney General will be a model for other large cities. For far too long, these underground operations have targeted children and minors without fear of retribution. This inventive new approach will seek to put an end to that.”
The state seems to be revving up for a higher level of enforcement. You could see the numbers start to bump in Q1 when the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce announced the amount of product they seized jumped from $32 million to $52 million in just a few months. It’s a safe bet the highest numbers will likely be attached to harvest season this year.
In addition to the jump in the amount of product seized, the plant eradication count went way up. Through the first three months of the year, the task force destroyed 43% more plants than the quarter before. The DCC noted that was despite serving 30% fewer search warrants. The bump was a direct result of targeting large-scale operations with the resources they had available.
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