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August 20, 2018, Santa Ana
Santa Ana, a city in Orange County, is locally known for its Zoo and Native American Art Museum. It made it to the headlines in 2015 with leaked security camera footage, showing that local police officers behaving like maniacs during the raid on an unlicensed cannabis dispensary Sky Holistic. They vandalized the dispensary, took the products and mistreated the staff.
There was a lot of hue and cry on how the police officials conducted themselves during the raid. A swift action was taken by the city’s police department by suspending all the three personnel involved in the incident. The court also sentenced them to community services on the charges of vandalism and petty theft.
The other side of the story
Nobody can justify the police misbehavior that was on display during the raid. However, it was on the cards for a long time because unregulated cannabis establishments were not ceasing their operations despite many warnings from the city administration. After failing to close down the unregulated cannabis businesses with just warnings and notices, the local police decided to launch crackdowns against all such establishments.
However, the incident of Sky Holistic Dispensary changed the entire dynamics of cannabis operations and related law & order situation in the city. The raid actually proved to be a blessing in disguise. The incident strongly reminded the police that they can’t abuse their authority. On the other hand, local cannabis sector also realized that it was time to get into full compliance with respective laws.
These changing attitudes among the stakeholders helped the city to emerge as a model regulated cannabis market. In the aftermath, the majority of illegal cannabis fronts got closed voluntarily. The police also opted out of the use of force. As things stand at the moment, 19 medical and adult-use licensed marijuana stores are operating in the city and more are expected to open soon.
Following the mishap of Sky High raid, the city administration didn’t change the course of cannabis reforms amid strong opposition from local Republicans. In the most of the neighboring cities, where cannabis laws were getting stricter, Santa Ana was gradually putting the citywide cannabis operations in the ambit of regulations.
This determined progress on cannabis in the city was realized when cannabis became a legal commodity throughout the state. Unlike many cities and counties, Santa Ana was well prepared to dive into the legal market. Early cannabis licensing in Santa Ana has paid off the city administration with hefty tax revenues in the first six months after statewide cannabis legalization. The city has succeeded in collecting $8 million taxes from the regulated medical and adult-use market. For the next six months, the cannabis tax revenue has been projected to cross $10 million mark.
The cannabis reforms in Santa Ana have set a great example for neighboring cities. Legal marijuana operations in the city have demonstrated that it’s entirely possible to get done right without embroiling in confrontation all the time.