Sacramento’s City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to add 15 new police officers for marijuana enforcement ahead of an expected vote next week on whether to license businesses to sell recreational marijuana.
“We will absolutely be prepared should we decide to move forward with adult-use retail beginning Jan. 1,” said Joe Devlin, Sacramento’s Chief of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement.
The Sacramento Police Department recently concluded a 60-day pilot program using SWAT officers to arrest 10 people and seize 4,800 marijuana plants from indoor growing operations. In addition, the Hazardous Dangerous Buildings Unit and police searched 24 buildings and deemed 15 of the properties were unsafe.
The police department will create a full-time team of three sergeants and 12 officers to focus on neighborhoods with the most illegal grows. The top two areas are in South Sacramento.
The city also hopes to create nine new positions that include code enforcement officers, building inspectors, customer service, administration, and technicians.
The increase will bring the total number of people to 54 who are employed by the city to deal with marijuana-related items.
“I think it reflects the scope of the challenge of what we’re dealing with and the seriousness [with which] the city of Sacramento is approaching it,” Devlin said.
The department estimates a cost of between $700,000 and $1.1 million for the last half of the fiscal year ending June 30. That funding is expected to come from marijuana tax revenues and fines on illegal operations.
The Office of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement says revenues from legal marijuana sales are expected to be more than the cost of enforcement over a three-year period. But, the cost of enforcement is expected to exceed revenues in the first year as businesses pay permit fees and begin operations.
As of Nov. 7, nearly $7 million in administrative penalties had been assessed, but only $25,000 had been paid.
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