The largest marijuana growing operation ever investigated by the County Cannabis Compliance Team was discovered Thursday when a search warrant was served at a greenhouse operation in Los Alamos.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office executed search warrants in Los Alamos and Grover Beach on Thursday following a monthlong investigation into alleged fraudulent licensing and black-market diversion of cannabis.
Warrants were executed at 8:30 a.m. at an undisclosed location in Los Alamos and at 805 Beach Breaks’ facility in the 1000 block of Highland Way, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said.
The Cannabis Compliance Team was assisted by the Santa Maria Police Department, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, the Grover Beach Police Department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
Hoover said the Los Alamos site was the largest marijuana growing operation they have investigated since the Cannabis Compliance Team formed in June 2018.
The team determined there were hundreds of thousands of illegal plants and thousands of pounds of processed marijuana ready for sale.
Hoover said the investigation involved cannabis being fraudulently licensed and diverted to the black market. She said no additional information would be released due to the ongoing investigation.
The diversion of cannabis into the illicit market is a public safety concern because it doesn’t ensure the proper testing and licensing of the cannabis, she said, adding that it harms businesses that are complying with state and local laws and pay taxes on their proceeds.
The Santa Barbara County Cannabis Compliance Team consists of personnel from many disciplines within a variety of county departments. It primarily focuses on unlicensed and illegal cannabis operations within the county and the safety of the public.
While recreational marijuana is legal in California, the law requires those selling or providing marijuana to be licensed through the state to ensure the sale of approved and tested cannabis products with regulated and identified THC content, Hoover said.
Santa Barbara County additionally requires that cannabis businesses possess local land-use permits and business licenses if they operate in unincorporated parts of the county.
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