In a court petition filed July 20, the federal government is suing the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) for cannabis business records in connection with a criminal investigation that Harris Bricken attorney Hilary Bricken says took an interesting turn after the BCC refused to provide the information.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) served an administrative subpoena to the BCC at the end of last year, which it later withdrew and re-issued in January, requesting information about six “entities,” which includes three state-licensed cannabis businesses and each company’s owner. The information, which includes cannabis licenses, license applications and shipping manifests for the licensees from Jan. 1, 2018 through Jan. 9, 2020, will be used as part of a federal criminal investigation into alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
In response to the subpoena, the BCC indicated in a letter that it would not turn over the requested documents because the subpoena doesn’t show relevance and its scope is not reasonable.
“States are free to check the feds and ensure that they’re following procedure, that everything’s constitutional,” Bricken said, adding, “I’m surprised there’s a fight over this particular subpoena, though. They just don’t have the facts, and they don’t have the law. It makes me question why the California [attorney general] is spending time and taxpayer dollars fighting off the inevitable because the bar is very clearly so low for the DEA [and] DOJ to get this information to mount a criminal investigation when the conduct is already federally illegal.”
The DEA has, for the last several months, urged the BCC and California attorney general to cooperate, to no avail, which is why the matter has landed in federal court, where the feds are asking a judge to enforce the subpoena against the