On 4/20 — a date known to marijuana enthusiasts nationwide — the Costa Mesa City Council passed an ordinance regulating retail cannabis sales and delivery in commercial areas, a move they say will help curtail illegal dispensaries run amok.
Officials have long described an influx of illicit operators, selling wares in non-descript storefronts to unsuspecting or undiscriminating clients, and the immensity of city resources it takes to shut them down.
“In Costa Mesa, you have an unquestionable demand for cannabis. [And] the demand is being filled by illegal operators, or trap shops,” Mayor John Stephens said Tuesday.
“They’re selling unregulated products to our consumers. One way you can get rid of illegal dispensaries is to bring a legal market in,” he continued.
An illegal dispensary at 2940 College Ave. in Costa Mesa was raided Tuesday, April 20, 2021, by the Bureau of Cannabis Control with assistance from the Costa Mesa Police Department. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)
Hours before the council’s discussion, Costa Mesa police officers assisted as agents from the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control raided and shuttered The Holy Fire, a dispensary on the city’s radar for operating without permission.
BCC spokesman Alex Traverso confirmed Tuesday officers moved quickly on the property, located at 2940 College Ave., during the early morning bust. More than $400,000 of product was seized.
“We move in and basically take everything out of the shop — product, shelves, monitors, ATMs…everything,” he said of the process in an email. “Then we board up the door. The key is to make it as tough to reopen as possible.”
A lone security officer on Thursday was still guarding the boarded-up