California Task Force Seized More Than $312 Million in Unregulated Cannabis in 2023

California regulators provided an update this week on enforcement efforts against the state’s unregulated cannabis market.

The California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) announced Jan. 16 that the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) seized more than $312 million in unregulated cannabis in 2023.

The task force, established in late 2022 to protect public safety, safeguard natural resources, and advance the integrity of California’s licensed cannabis market, seized nearly 190,000 pounds of cannabis and eradicated nearly 318,000 plants last year, according to Tuesday’s announcement. The UCETF also confiscated 119 illegally possessed firearms in 2023.

“California is effectively decreasing the illegal cannabis market by leveraging the strengths and knowledge of over 20 state agencies and departments alongside our local and federal partners,” DCC Director Nicole Elliott said in a public statement. “The UCETF’s progress in 2023 reflects California’s ongoing commitment to disrupting and dismantling illegal cannabis activity. I look forward to working with all our partners in 2024 to build on this progress.”

In 2023, the UCETF, in total, served 188 search warrants, seized 189,854.02 pounds of cannabis worth $312,880,014.35, eradicated 317,834 plants and seized $223,809 in cash.

RELATED: California Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce Seizes 7,503 Illicit Cannabis Plants in Second Operation

The top five counties for enforcement activity in 2023 included Alameda ($77,828,338.50 in cannabis seized), Siskiyou ($70,747,875.00 in cannabis seized), Mendocino ($48,073,113.00 in cannabis seized), Los Angeles ($28,317,139.69 in cannabis seized) and Kern ($21,578,438.25 in cannabis seized).

Since its launch, UCETF has seized a total of $317,578,792.29 in unregulated cannabis through 218 search warrants, as well as eradicated 347,321 plants and seized 128 firearms.

Gov. Gavin Newsom created the UCETF in 2022 to align state efforts and increase cannabis enforcement coordination among state, local and federal officials. The task force aims to protect consumer and public safety, safeguard the environment, and take illicit revenue away from unregulated cannabis operators.

“Since its inception in late 2022, California’s Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce has hit the ground running with year-round operations that spanned from the Oregon state line all the way down to San Diego,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton Bonham said in a public statement. “We’ve sent a strong message that illegal operations that harm our natural resources, threaten the safety of workers, and put consumer health at risk have no place in California. While there is more work to be done, we made progress last year and I look forward to going further alongside our county, state, and federal partners.”

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