Cannabis: A look at the legal and illegal sides of California’s cannabis industry

This post first appeared on San Gabriel Valley Tribune - California News on . You can read the original article here.

Recreational cannabis sales began in January 2018, and while many sellers have played by the rules, the illegal growth and sale of the plant continue to undermine those following the rules.

Licensed to grow, manufacture and sell

State license issuance began in 2018, but data isn’t available for that initial year because temporary licenses were issued. Data sets begin in 2019, when 12-month annual and provisional licenses began to be issued, using the online licensing systems.

Licenses remain active for 12 months, at which point they can be renewed for an additional 12 months. This list displays counts of when the license was first issued but not each time it was renewed.

California collected about $817 million in adult-use marijuana tax revenue during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, a 55% increase than the prior fiscal year.

Total licenses by county, 2019-2022

Data extracted as of 4/19/2022



Taxation situation

On Jan. 1, the state’s cannabis cultivation tax increased by almost 5%, raising it to $161 per pound.

There are four bills at the state level addressing cannabis overtaxation that have been introduced this year: Assembly Bill 2792, AB 2506, Senate Bill 1281 and SB 1293.

State lawmakers have been slow to lower marijuana taxes, so some local governments moved to grant tax relief to cannabis businesses.

Counties that have lowered taxes on the cannabis industry:







San Francisco



San Jose


Desert Hot Springs

Palm Springs

Long Beach

San Diegoimage

Illegal plants seized in California by year

The California Department of Justice’s annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting program eradicated nearly 1.2 million illegally cultivated marijuana plants and seized more than 180,000 pounds of illegally processed marijuana in 2021.

Plant value?

Pot can vary a lot in quality and value and prices in California have fluctuated a lot recently. In October 2020 a pound was about $1,500, but a pound might be about $800 in April 2022. At $800 a pound, the 1.2 million plants seized in 2021 could have a value of about $960 million.

You can report an illegal business anonymously online at


Sources: Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, California Department of Justice, Department of Cannabis Control California, The Associated Press, Business Insider, California Department of Agriculture,, MJ Biz Daily, Pew Research Center