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$6 Million San Jose Pot Bust as California Nears Legalization

Despite reports that California voters seem on the the cusp of passing an initiative in November that would make the regulated production and consumption of marijuana for recreational use legal, San Jose police just made a $6 million pot bust.

In what the San Jose Police Department’s Metro special-enforcement unit labeled “Operation Greensweep,” teams of officers fanned out over the city’s south side and Evergreen to seize 1,872 mature marijuana plants found at eight suburban homes. At a value of about $3,000 per plant, the marijuana confiscated could have a street value in excess of $5.6 million.

Police said that the indoor pot operations took place in otherwise quiet and safe communities. Although many call marijuana a victimless crime, demands for enforcement have been stepped up after a 26-year-old man was shot to death on March 17 at a grow house and electrical fires broke out at two grow house operations the following month.

Like many other indoor growing operations, the Greensweep perpetrators were sophisticated enough to bypass local PG&E metering in order to steal huge amounts of electricity and hide their illegal actions. Due to the installation of a clever ventilation system, local neighbors could not detect the pungent odor, despite numerous plants.

San Jose residents Dean Minh Trinh, 39, and Kim Chai Le, 38, were taken into custody at their Winsted Drive home in San Jose. Police sources doubt that the couple were the kingpins, given the sophistication, size and the number of locations involved. Four other men were detained by the authorities, who brought search warrants to seven other houses.

“This is not a mom-and-pop operation,” Lt. Larry Ryan, Commander of the Metro unit told the San Jose Mercury News. “That money is going somewhere. Other individuals are involved.”

Breitbart News reported on July 4 that the latest polls indicate voters in November seem ready to approve the California Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Initiative. A statewide Probolsky Research poll found that the initiative enjoys 59.9 percent support from likely California voters, while only 36.7 percent are opposed.

Under the initiative, adults age 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to six plants. Legalized marijuana and hemp sales would be subject to a California state excise tax rate of 15 percent on final sales, plus a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves.

The State of California is already gearing up in anticipation that the initiative could drive legal sales to reach $6.6 billion by 2018 and generate over $1 billion in excise taxes, according to the fourth edition of the “State of Legal Marijuana Markets” report compiled by New Frontier and ArcView Market Research.

The legal medical marijuana market in the United States already totaled about $5.7 billion in 2015, up $1.1 billion from the prior year — a 24 percent gain. California was the national market leader, with a 47 percent market share on $2.7 billion in sales.

Photo: File

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