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Federal Court: California Must Share Cannabis Licensee Records with Feds

The DEA and Department of Justice won their federal court case against the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) pursuant to which the BCC must now comply with a recent DEA subpoena regarding alleged criminal activity by certain state-licensed distributors. Namely, it sounds like certain Southern California licensed distributors are (allegedly) moving cannabis oil out of Mexico into California.

In an inevitable conclusion, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and Department of Justice (“DOJ”) won their federal court case against the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) pursuant to which the BCC must now comply with a recent DEA subpoena regarding alleged criminal activity by certain state-licensed distributors hailing out of (what’s probably) San Diego (based on the court filings). Namely, it sounds like certain Southern California licensed distributors are (allegedly) moving cannabis oil out of Mexico into California.

This summer, the DOJ and the DEA sued the BCC because the BCC refused to comply with a DEA subpoena about the alleged extracurricular drug trafficking above. The DOJ’s July 20th court petition filing  states that the DEA and the DOJ are seeking specific information from the BCC about six “entities” (which really means three corporations and each corporation’s “presumed owner”) that hold BCC licenses where the feds are conducting a criminal investigation (for violations of the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”)). The BCC has refused to provide that information to the DEA.

At the end of last year, the DEA served an administrative subpoena on the BCC (which it later withdrew and then re-issued an identical subpoena in January of this year) requesting unredacted cannabis licenses, cannabis license applications, and shipping manifests for these licensees from January 1, 2018 (when licensing began in California) through January 9, 2020. In the January subpoena (which is standard and boilerplate), the DEA wrote that “the information sought . . . is relevant and material to a legitimate law enforcement inquiry . . .” and nothing else.

In response, the BCC responded (via letter) that it wouldn’t produce the desired documents because the subpoena “does not specify the relevancy of the subpoena” and because the requested information is “confidential, protected, and part of pending licensing investigations.” The DEA then, for a matter of months, tried to persuade and negotiate with the BCC and the California Attorney General to cooperate, but the BCC wouldn’t budge (even though the DEA revealed in these “negotiations” more factual and legal details about its investigation into these licensees). So, the feds took the matter to federal court for enforcement of the subpoena against the BCC. 

Read: Full Article on Harris Bricken CannaLaw Blog

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