California Officials Selling Seized Bongs to Cover Unpaid Cannabis Taxes

Tue, Feb 20
Key Points
  • California police and tax collection officials recently auctioned off personal property seized from unlicensed and tax-delinquent cannabis dispensaries, including items like glass bongs, furniture, and electronics.
  • The property was seized during search warrant executions on ten Los Angeles-based cannabis dispensaries, with only one being licensed and the businesses collectively owing over $14.4 million in unpaid taxes.
  • This marked the first time California law enforcement publicly auctioned personal property seized from cannabis businesses, having previously only auctioned off commercial property from similar raids in other locations.
  • The auctions were conducted to recover taxes owed to the state, as part of ongoing efforts to curb the unregulated cannabis industry in California, which has also included the seizure of illicit cannabis and enforcement actions against violators.

California police and tax collection officials recently sold at auction personal property seized during law enforcement raids on unlicensed and tax-delinquent cannabis dispensaries. First reported by the LA Times, the auctions seized included items such as glass bongs and pipes, furniture, and electronics typical to modern dispensaries.

The products were initially seized while executing search warrants against multiple Los Angeles-based cannabis dispensaries. Of the ten retailers raided, only one was actually licensed by the state, and together, the businesses reportedly owed more than $14.4 million in unpaid taxes.

Notably, the auctions last week marked the first time California law enforcement publicly auctioned off personal property that was seized from a cannabis business. Previously, officials had only auctioned off the commercial property recovered from similar seizures in Whittier and Compton, the report said.

“Seizing and auctioning property from cannabis businesses that evade the law is a tool to recover the taxes owed to the state.” — Nick Maduros, Director of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, via the LA Times

The items from each location were grouped into lots and if potential purchasers were interested in a specific item, they were required to bid on the entire lot.

The property seizures marked the latest cannabis industry enforcement action for a state that has long sought to curb the unregulated industry. The Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce in California said in January that the taskforce had seized about 190,000 pounds of illicit cannabis — valued at nearly $312 million — during its first calendar year of operation.

Additionally, a Humboldt County cannabis cultivator agreed earlier this month to pay $750,000 to the state over environmental violations, promising to also take restorative measures as part of the court-approved agreement.