Licensed cannabis businesses in Santa Ana, Los Angeles raided over unpaid taxes

The OC register reports..

Two California Highway Patrol vehicles and a half dozen unmarked vehicles blocked off the parking lot of Super Clinik, a licensed cannabis store in Santa Ana, just after the shop opened at 8 a.m. on the morning of March 18.

With an agent from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration looking on, several CHP officers went inside, counted out a couple six-inch high stacks of cash and took them from the Birch Street store, according to witness reports and photos from the scene.

Super Clinik owners didn’t respond to multiple requests to speak for this story, while state tax officials said privacy laws prevent them from discussing specific cases. But experts said the operation at the Santa Ana shop had all the hallmarks of a “till tap” civil warrant, which the tax agency uses to seize cash from businesses that haven’t paid sales tax bills despite escalated warnings.

This is the second such operation reported at a longstanding, licensed cannabis shop in Southern California in the past month. In early March, a shop called TLC in Boyle Heights, owned by the well-known industry veterans Jungle Boys, also got raided by the CDTFA and CHP. The business posted video from the incident on its Instagram page, saying officers came in with guns drawn and took more than $100,000 from their cash registers after they paid $18 million in taxes in 2021.

“That’s triggering to all of us because this is what used to happen regularly,” said Dana Cisneros, an attorney who’s worked with cannabis businesses for 15 years.

For decades, law enforcement raided pot shops in California, arresting people on site and seizing goods as businesses operated in the gray space created by loose medical marijuana laws. But with recreational consumption of cannabis legal in California since 2016, and the state giving members of the fledgling industry some leeway, raids of licensed shops have been rare in recent years.

Now, the recent reports of tax raids have industry insiders wondering if state authorities are entering a tougher phase of enforcement when it comes to dealing with licensed operators.

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Licensed cannabis businesses in Santa Ana, Los Angeles raided over unpaid taxes

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