California News

Budget dispute hinders state crackdown on illicit marijuana market in California

A dispute between the governor and lawmakers over how to pay for a crackdown on the illicit marijuana market in California has resulted in the $14 million for the effort being left out of a proposed budget, officials said.

Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed the funding to create five teams in the state attorney general’s office to investigate California’s black market for marijuana. The proposal was made after businesses with state licenses warned that they are at a competitive disadvantage against illicit growers and sellers.

However, a budget plan negotiated between legislators and the governor did not include the funding. The Legislature will vote on the plan this week.

 The loss of the funding “disappointed” the California Cannabis Industry Assn. (CCIA), according to Amy Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the group.

“Since the rollout of the state licensing framework earlier this year, CCIA has consistently maintained that additional resources are critically needed to ensure that lawful cannabis businesses can successfully compete in the California marketplace,” Jenkins said.

So what happened?

“The Legislature didn’t approve it,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

Kevin Liao, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, offered a different take.

“The Assembly supports these cannabis enforcement units and proposed the units be funded through the General Fund due to concerns they are an ineligible use of Cannabis Tax Fund dollars,” Liao said in a statement. “The administration rejected that proposal.”

Jenkins said her group would continue to work with state leaders to find a way to increase enforcement against the illicit market.