Recreational marijuana has been legal in California for more than a year. However, there are still laws that regulate how, when, and where marijuana can be sold. Selling marijuana in violation of these laws can carry harsh consequences. A 24-year-old San Diego man recently learned this lesson the hard way after he was arrested for orchestrating a marijuana “farmer’s market” in North Park.
According to reports, Ramin Moghadam organized and advertised an event called Ganja Galaxy. The event promoted the black market sale of high-grade marijuana and marijuana products by more than 45 vendors. Police raided the event and arrested Moghadam and an associate for their roles in the illegal marijuana operation. A search warrant was also served at Moghadam’s Carlsbad home. Police seized 9 firearms, 90 pounds of marijuana, $100,000 in cash, and more than 6,000 marijuana edibles from the man’s home and the event.
Cracking Down on San Diego’s Black Market
Recreational marijuana is legal in many parts of San Diego. As a result, it’s much easier for adults to purchase and use the drug without consequences. However, there’s still a demand for the popular drug on the black market.
Why? There are two reasons. First, regulations limit how, when, and where marijuana can be sold. These regulations hurt marijuana entrepreneurs who can’t comply with the new laws. Second, regulations limit the quantity and type of marijuana that a consumer can purchase and possess at one time. When a black market exists, businesses and consumers can get what they want without complying with the law.
Police in San Diego have spent the past year trying to crack down on black market operations across the city. The investigation that led to the Ganja Galaxy busts was active for months. The police raid not only stopped the event in its tracks, but also allowed the state to seize guns, drugs, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
Anyone involved in a black market marijuana distribution scheme can face serious consequences. The vendors at Ganja Galaxy all received citations for their role in the black market event. Most of the vendors were charged with operating a business without a permit and possession of marijuana for sale.
Possession of Marijuana For Sale on the Black Market
Possession of marijuana for sale, in violation of California state law, is generally a misdemeanor for the first offense. A conviction can result in up to 6 months in a San Diego County Jail and/or $500 in fines. If you have prior convictions for the same offense or tried to sell marijuana to a minor, the crime becomes a felony. A conviction can result in 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison and/or expensive criminal fines.
Operating a Marijuana Business Without a License
It’s legal to sell marijuana if you have a permit granted by the Bureau of Marijuana Control. Selling marijuana to any customer without a permit is against the law. For first-time offenders, operating a marijuana business without a permit is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months behind bars.
However, the crime can become a felony if you have prior marijuana-related convictions or have transported or attempted to transport more than 28.5 grams of the drug across state lines. A felony conviction for operating a marijuana business without a license is punishable by up to 4 years in a California State prison.
The state will continue to crack down the black market sales of marijuana. Anyone who fails to comply with the new legalization laws can face harsh criminal consequences. Do not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are arrested for a marijuana drug crime in San Diego.