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RegTalk: Humboldt County Collects $2 Million In Fines From Illegal Growers

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RegTalk: Humboldt County Collects $2 Million In Fines From Illegal Growers
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By Susan Ameel, co-founder and partner of Global Regulatory Risk Advisors.

Humboldt County continues to step up enforcement against illegal growers. Over the past year, the Humboldt County Code Enforcement Unit in California has actively identified illegal grow operations using satellite imagery.  The county pays over $200,000 a year to access Planet’s software, which allows the staff to quickly identify possible violators.

The Eureka Times Standard reports that cannabis enforcement efforts are up 700% in 2018, and brought in over $2 million in fines for the county. Humboldt County holds around 20% of the overall commercial cultivation licenses in California. 

The fines sought by the regulators continue to increase.  In October, the Enforcement Unit was seeking a $10,000 per day penalty against 87 growers for commercial cannabis land use and building code violations.  The illegal grow sites were given 10 days to dispose of the cannabis plants and illegal structures, after which, the $10,000 per day fine took effect.

Today, the Enforcement Unit is seeking fines per day fines of between $20,000 and $30,000 for code violations. Now that cannabis is legal, regulators are raising administrative fines as a means of forcing cannabis operators into the legal market. Humboldt County continues to transform its legendary cannabis market into the legal framework, although at a greater cost and regulatory burden for its local residents.

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