RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — There's a new type of enforcement in Rancho Cordova: the pot police.
It's illegal to grow pot commercially in Rancho Cordova and Sacramento County, so why is there a new investigator? Police say it's needed to stem the increase in illegal operations that hurt legal cannabis businesses.
Law enforcement seized 3,100 marijuana plants in Rancho Cordova on Nov. 22. It's the latest in a crackdown on illegal grows there including 15 residential and 5 commercial grows in the last two years, which have caused a public outcry.
"The community's concern is my concern," said Rancho Cordova Police Asst. Chief Jeff Schelldorf.
Schelldorf says illegal grow houses bring safety issues and crime, lowering property values.
"Sometimes they'll just bypass the meter and pull the power right from the street. But it can attract other crimes too, burglaries, robberies, all the way up to homicides," he said.
That's why the city just funded a new position in the police department focused solely on investigating illegal commercial marijuana grows. The investigator works undercover.
"We need someone who is the center point to be responsive to the community when we do get these tips — we're jumping right on them," said Schelldorf.
Illegal grow operations are also undercutting legal ones like Seven Leaves in Sacramento.
"We are a licensed medium indoor grow. We can cultivate up to 2,200 square feet," said co-owner Tyler Kerns.
Kerns said with his recent expansion, he is set to be one of the largest grows in the area. Kerns has invested millions for state-of-the-art technology.
"We do have wireless probes that send a signal back to the computer letting it know the plant is thirsty. the plant needs more nutrients," he said.
Just his electric bill alone comes to $60,000 each month. That's why he's glad to hear cities like Rancho Cordova are policing illegal pot grows more and more.
"It is affecting us, we know it is," said Kerns. "And they have been sliding it in the back door of some stores and beating us out on price. Obviously, because they can come up under 40-60 percent cheaper and still make a profit and we can't compete with that."
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