BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Illegal pot shops keep popping back into business, in the last six days seven shops have been raided and officials said they are doing what they can to keep owners from reopening illegal stores.
Five days after KCSO raided Superior Med Cannabis shop, our reporter Tori Cooper stopped by the shop on Wednesday night and it appeared to be back open. The lights were on and several customers were seen going in and out of the store.
However, after employees spotted our marked vehicle, they stopped letting customers in or out.
Cooper contacted KCSO immediately to notify them about the activity taking place again at the shop.
KCSO and state officials are now reminding the community to stay vigilant and consistent in their reporting.
Even after illegal cannabis shops are raided, Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Cannabis Control said the job isn't done, "We find sometimes is that it's difficult to find the owner of the business and if you cant get to the owner of the business, then there is a higher likelihood of them reopening."
Traverso said when they can't find the owner responsible, they detain the employees in hopes of getting information leading back to the top of the cannabis chain. A tactic they said usually is another dead end.
"There's not really penalties against the employees, a lot of times the employees are just people looking for a job, who may not ask questions either about whether the place is licensed or not," Traverso said.
Most people know buying medicinal and recreational marijuana is banned in Kern County and the City of Bakersfield. However, officials said it's still a chronic problem state and local Kern County Sheriff's Office officials are seeing far too often.
KCSO officials said two of the four shops raided by deputies on Friday were shops they have previously closed down before. Owners of the Superior Med Cannabis shop and the BMC shop have been relentless in their attempts to keep operating, despite being raided by KCSO.
KCSO said to their knowledge 25 illegal cannabis shops reside just in their county jurisdiction, the Bureau of Cannabis Control said they also raided three separate illegal cannabis shops in the city of Bakersfield this week following citizen reports.
State cannabis control officials said they are doing their best to coordinate with local law enforcement agencies first to combat the issue.
"It's not a matter of who gets the credit or who does what, but if we are the lead agency we are going to take all that property and we are going to hold it until the case runs its way through the judicial process," Traverso said.
Traverso said if you see an illegal pot shop it's essential to call or go online to report the issue, "You could go on the Bureau of Cannabis Control website, it allows you to file an anonymous complaint online,"
However, he said combating the problem starts with making sure the shop you are buying from is licensed to ensure you are not consuming non-tested products and it starts with educating more people about the problem.
"To get people away from these shops and really make life hard on these people that own these illegal shops," Traverso said.