The Cannabis Regulation Task Force, led by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, conducted the raid because the dispensary was operating in an area where the county does not currently permit the distribution of cannabis products.
Officers from the task force detained, then immediately released, one employee when they served the search warrant Tuesday morning. While no arrests were made, the district attorney’s office served the business with a cease and desist letter today, informing them they are prohibited from continuing to operate commercially.
The owners of the business did not return The Desert Sun’s request for comment.
John Hall, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, said that while the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is legal in California, cities are in charge of regulating dispensaries and issuing them the proper permits needed to conduct business legally. Businesses operating outside of city limits – like Desert Cann Wellness Center – cannot be issued licenses because the county does not yet issue permits directly. The County Board of Supervisors passed new legislation that will authorize dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county, but it has not yet taken effect.
“Dispensaries are not authorized to operate in unincorporated areas of the county,” Hall said. “When businesses attempt to do this, they have an unfair business advantage over those that work with cities to get the proper permits and make sure their products are regulated for safety.”
The officers spent most of Tuesday bagging and removing plants and products from the dispensary, which operated in a nondescript industrial facility complex on Gunther Street near Rio del Sol, in the northwest part of Thousand Palms. The business included a front lobby where customers bought their products and four large grow rooms where task force officers found live and dried plants.
Thousand Palms, where the dispensary was located, is an unincorporated city in Riverside County. The district attorney’s office created the Riverside County Cannabis Regulation Task Force to regulate the dispensaries that have been opening in the county’s unincorporated areas since the legalization of recreational use of marijuana at the beginning of 2018.
The task force is made up of officers from the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Hemet Police Department, and the Riverside Police Department. Staff from the Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California Department of Consumer Affairs also participated in Tuesday’s raid, but they are not formally part of the task force.