An illegal marijuana grow house with 1,577 marijuana plants in various stages of maturity has been shut down in Ripon.
The combined SWAT team of the Manteca/Ripon police departments made the bust after serving a warrant Friday at 7 a.m. in the 600 block of East Main Street east of Highway 99.
One suspect, Weicong Tan, was taken into custody. He was identified by his foreign passport. Tan was booked into the San Joaquin County jail on charges associated with the marijuana grow and cultivation.
Although California law allows the growing of up to six marijuana plants for personal use, commercial grows are highly regulated and only can occur when local jurisdictions such as cities or counties allow them.
The marijuana black market is still thriving in California.
Based on studies in the Los Angeles area, those buying marijuana from legally allowed storefront operations end up paying 40 to 80 percent above the black market price. That is attributed to state taxes on cultivators at $9.25 per ounce of flower, $2.75 per ounce of leaves, and $1.29 of fresh plant material. The state also imposes a 15 percent tax on the price of marijuana product that is sold.
Counties and cities also add their own taxes. In addition, the state requires legal marijuana operations to put their pot products through rigorous testing that black market growers do not perform. That adds to the cost as well.
It is why large scale illegal marijuana grows is still an issue in California.
Such illegal grows in urban areas are typically in rented houses. They almost always rig often unsafe and illegal bypasses of electric power meters. The reason is two-fold. The lighting system needed to provide artificial light for marijuana to grow uses inordinate amount of electricity that sends a red flag to power providers. Also the amount of power to grow 1,577 plants is extremely costly.
What also happens is much of the interior is damaged if grows are in a rented house.
Illegal grow houses raided over the years in Manteca and Lathrop have usually been so-called two-story McMansions where every room possible had been converted into a nursery. To do that, holes are usually cut in ceilings and knocked in walls.
The last illegal grow houses busted in the South County were in mid-December with multiple houses raided in Manteca and Lathrop.
The investigation in Friday’s Ripon raid is ongoing. If you have any information contact Ripon Police Detective Richard Francis at 209-599-0255.