Archive for the ‘Cannabis’ Category

Raids of 20 East County homes net over $15 million in illegal weed

Thursday, June 22nd, 2023
Illegal weed seized and red tagged house on Stanford Way in Antioch on Tuesday, June 20, 2023. Top photos by CA Dept of Cannabis Control. Bottom photo by Antioch resident who chose to remain anonymous.

Five Antioch homes included

By Moorea Warren, Information Officer, California Department of Cannabis Control

Thanks to the continued dedication and collaboration of the Governor’s Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) 20 East Bay illegal indoor cannabis cultivators were shut down on June 20, and a total estimated value of over $15.3 million of illegal cannabis was seized.

An investigation spanning several weeks culminated in the operation led by the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). There were 20 search warrants served by four units of officers and local and state partners, including the Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the California National Guard, and local law enforcement – five in Antioch (according to a witness two with addresses of 2460 and 2480 Stanford Way), three in Brentwood, two in Discovery Bay and ten in Pittsburg, resulting in the seizures of:

  • 742 pounds of cannabis flower estimated valued of $1,244,762
  • 17,121 cannabis plants estimated valued of $14,124,825
  • 7 firearms (including 1 assault rifle)
  • $24,197 in cash

Several of the locations were red-tagged for safety and code violations.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Torres-Walker flip flops shows mayor some love as Antioch Council approves 5 part-time secretaries on split vote

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023


Council approves another marijuana distribution business, amends billboard regs, wants more information on increasing street sweeping services

Torres-Walker also wants council to discuss reparations for African- and Asian-American residents

By Allen D. Payton

Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker flip flopped Tuesday night and ended up showing Mayor Lamar Thorpe some love giving him his own secretary, and all the other council members who want one, as well.  During their meeting on Valentines’ Day night Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 the Antioch City Council approved the hiring of up to five part-time secretaries for those council members who want them, on a 3-2 vote. District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voted against it.

The increase to five council assistants by Torres-Walker from the original one, then three and the vote to approve them occurred in spite of her stating at the special meeting on Friday, Jan. 13, 2022 that she wouldn’t.

“After having several hours conversations with community members…we came to the conclusion, this probably isn’t the right direction to go in,” she said that afternoon. “The right direction would be internships. I’m not prepared to support this tonight or in the future. But I would support a public policy internship program.”

Approve Another Cannabis Business

In other council action, they also approved the use permit for another cannabis distribution business, this one at 2101 W. 10th Street known as Delta Distribution also on a split vote. On a motion by District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson and seconded by Torres-Walker, followed by a 4-1 vote with only Barbanica voting against. The business is located in the same building as Delta Dispensary which is owned by the same family.

The council also voted unanimously to amend the City’s billboard regulations focusing them in the future within 500 feet of Highways 4 and 160. There are currently five and two proposed within the city limits. The new ones are proposed by Delta Bowl near Hwy 4 and Somersville Road and the other by Mesa Outdoor near the Antioch BART Station.

Increasing Street Sweeping Services Postponed

But the council postponed voting to increase street sweeping services, wanting more information and costs for adding litter pickup, signage and enforcement for residents to move their cars on the day their street is sweeped.

The council was informed that Delta Diablo sanitation district provides the service at a cost of about $371,500 per year.

“I know I raised this…because I was concerned about the number of times the streets are cleaned, also enforcement,” Torres-Walker stated. “Without signage you can’t enforce. My concern is we increase street sweeping services in neighborhoods that desperately need it. But without enforcement…I’m just concerned…”

“There was an idea we do it ourselves,” she added.

“We did the analysis. It’s quite expensive for us to do it in house,” said Interim Public Works Director Scott Buenting. “There’s three options that are here. If council wants something more, we can go and bring back cost estimates.”

“The signage we would have to do,” Thorpe stated.

“There would be a cost associated with that,” Buenting added.

“I do have a fourth option,” Ogorchock said. “That would be hiring a couple more laborers to tackle this issue. It’s more prevention from keeping things going into storm drains. It’s not Delta Diablo’s job to pick up trash…like pizza boxes.”

She then asked about Prop. 218, a property tax assessment to cover additional costs.

“Prop. 218 is if we didn’t fund it,” Thorpe responded.

“Prop. 218 would come from Delta Diablo,” Wilson added.

“Do they have the option for…litter pick up?” Torres-Walker asked.

It’s just street sweeping, Buenting responded.

“Does the cost estimate include additional services or not?” Torres-Walker asked.

Thorpe clarified that the council is looking for additional services, not just an increase in frequency.

“Sounds fine. I can work with the city manager,” Buenting said.

“If there’s a pizza box, we don’t want them to go around the pizza box,” Thorpe added.

Ogorchock pushed for the two additional laborers.

Barbanica said, “My preference is to price it both ways, if we do it or they do it” referring to litter pickup.

“Street sweeping intervals we’re OK with how they’re set?” Buenting asked.

“No,” Thorpe responded.

“I’m not for increased (services). But I am for litter pickup,” Barbanica said.

“I’m on the same page,” Ogorchock said.

“I’m not sure about the frequency until we get more information,” Wilson said.

“So, that’s a ‘no’,” Thorpe responded.

“I live in a community where the streets need to be swept more than once a month,” Torres-Walker said.

“I’m pretty frustrated with the lack of enforcement and signage, getting people to move their cars,” Thorpe said agreeing with Torres-Walker. “Pittsburg has enhanced service. I think they have street sweeping twice a month, there. The business corridors get it once a week.”

“Pittsburg has it in-house,” Ogorchock shared.

“Some of us actually live in communities where we need increased street sweeping, litter pickup, enforcement so cars can be moved,” Torres-Walker said. “I’m just committed to cleaner streets. We’ve been at this up here for two years…with blighted cars and blighted streets.”

“If there are communities that need it more, then yes,” Wilson responded. “I’m not saying ‘no’. But I need to know more information on the cost of that” referring to litter pickup.

“It could be more cost effective to look at hiring two more laborers,” Ogorchock repeated.

“It could be a matter of coordinating with the street sweeper and our abatement teams,” Thorpe said.

While Barbanica did, Torres-Walker didn’t support Ogorchock’s proposal.

“We just hired one laborer for just downtown. You’re proposing hiring two laborers to work throughout the entire city?” she asked. “I’m not for that because I believe the demand would be for more than two bodies for an entire city.”

Staff will return at a future council meeting with options for a decision.

Torres-Walker Flip Flops, Proposes Five Part-Time Secretaries, Council Approves 3-2

After saying at the January 13th special council meeting that, “I’m not prepared to support this tonight or in the future. But I would support a public policy internship program,” Torres-Walker took a 180 and proposed hiring up to five part-time secretaries, one for each council member who wants one, and made the motion to approve. But she also wants a citywide internship program.

The City currently does not have an internship program, Human Resources Director Ana Cortez said. “We should not be treating our interns as employees.”

The City could run into some legal issues, and it could require an educational aspect in the program, she mentioned.

“The compensation would be in the form of stipends, not wages,” Cortez continued. “In hiring part-time secretaries…they would be limited to 1,000 hours per year…to avoid paying very expensive benefits costs. Part-time secretaries could be hired for a longer duration and require less supervision following training.”

The option is to create a citywide intern program, which is something Cortez has been proposing.

“We would be partnering either with a college or high schools and it would be a benefit to the city and to interns,” she added.

Two members of the public spoke in favor of an internship program.

During council discussion, Torres-Walker said, “I know I raised the issue of secretaries…to support those council members who aren’t retired and require support. Then I thought about an internship program. There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm around an internship program.”

“I’m actually in support of both options,” she continued. “Secretaries to support the council and creation of an internship program to support the curiosity of how cities are run.”

“I really want to support five part-time council positions to support the council members,” Torres-Walker added.

Wilson asked Cortez who the interns would answer to.

“Depending on the department that has the need, the director would make a request and the interns would be assigned to that department,” Cortez said. “It would be housed in Human Resources in our offices.”

“I’m all for interns. I hate that title secretaries. I do like the five secretaries. If somebody says, ‘I don’t need one, right now’ then that person wouldn’t be hired until their needed. We could postpone hiring secretaries for those who don’t need one, right now.”

“This all started with one for all of us, part-time,” Thorpe added. “I’m excited to hear about the five. I’m all for that.”

“To hire one part-time it would be $15,500,” Cortez shared.

“I think there is general support for the internship program. It will need to be built out and brought back,” Thorpe stated.

Torres-Walker then made the motion to hire up to five part-time secretaries to support the council members. Wilson seconded it and the motion passed on a 3-2 vote with Ogorchock and Barbanica voting against.

Torres-Walker Wants Council to Discuss Reparations for African-, Asian-American Residents

During council comments, at the request of one resident who broached the subject during public comments earlier in the meeting for both Africa-American and Asian residents, Torres-Walker asked the council to consider placing reparations on a future meeting agenda.

The council voted 5-0 to adjourn the meeting at 11:00 p.m.

Antioch Council to consider 16% salary increase, hiring part-time secretaries for council members

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

Site of five existing cannabis businesses and the proposed Delta Distribution. Photo: City of Antioch

Another cannabis business; reorganizing city departments, adding department head; to give performance evaluations for city manager, attorney

By Allen D. Payton

During their first meeting of the year, tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 10, the Antioch City Council will again consider hiring three part-time secretaries for themselves, increasing their own salaries and reorganizing the Public Works and Community Development Departments, which would include creating a new Engineering Department and adding another department head. They will also vote on approving a use permit for another cannabis distribution business. Prior to the regular meeting, during Closed Session, the council members will give performance evaluations to both City Manager Con Johnson and City Attorney Thomas L. Smith. (View the complete council meeting agenda packet.)

Cannabis Distribution Business

Under agenda Item 9, the council will consider approving a use permit for another cannabis distribution business named Delta Distribution at 2101 W. 10th Street. The location already houses five previously approved existing cannabis businesses, including Delta Labs, Delta Dispensary, Delta Nursery, Delta Farms and KWMA. The latter two are cultivation businesses. (See Item 9)

Reorganizing City Departments

First, City Manager Con Johnson placed Public Works Director and City Engineer John Samuelson on paid administrative leave Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. Now, he is pursuing a reorganization of both the Public Works and Community Development Departments and asking for the council’s approval.

In an automated response to an email asking about the proposed traffic calming devices on James Donlon Blvd. and Sycamore Drive, Samuelson wrote, “Thank you for contacting the City of Antioch.  I have been placed on administrative leave and I do not know if or when I might return.  Please contact Public Works at if you need assistance.”

Now, Johnson is proposing the council consider reorganize both the Public Works and Community Development Departments and create a new Engineering Department with a new head. But there are no details on the costs nor on how the Community Development Department would be reorganized. (See Item 10)

Council Pay Raises

Even though the city council voted 4-1 in 2019 for a 70% increase in their monthly stipends from $941.20 to $1,600.04 per month, the current council members will consider another 15.8% increase or $252.21 for a total of $1,852.25 per month for the part-time policy makers. Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock was the only member to vote against the 2019 pay raise, while then Councilmembers Lamar Thorpe and Monica Wilson voted in favor. Councilmembers Tamisha Torres-Walker and Mike Barbanica weren’t elected until 2020 and the increase didn’t go into effect until January 1, 2021, after that year’s election.

But the new increase can’t go into effect until January 1, 2025. According to the city staff report, “State law would permit an increase to $1,852.25 per month effective January 1, 2025 by applying the allowed five percent increase for four years (on a simple, non-compounded basis).” (See Item 11)

Council Secretaries

In addition to Mayor Lamar Thorpe having his own office and one office for the other four council members inside City Hall – even though City Treasurer Lauren Posada didn’t have her own office and was still using a cubicle in the Finance Department until she was informed on Dec. 29 that she would have one, again*, – for the first time ever, the five part-time policy makers will vote on hiring three part-time secretaries to support them. Currently the city manager’s secretary supports the council members, but the proposal is to hire one for the mayor, one for councilmembers in Districts 1 and 4 and another for councilmembers from Districts 2 and 3. Thorpe has split it up that way so that if District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock vote against the expenditure, they won’t have a part-time secretary to support them. The estimated costs are $15,000 to $21,667 for one secretary, $30,000 to $43,334 for two and $45,000 to $60,000 for three secretaries if all three are approved. (See Item 12)

*UPDATE: Posada shared Tuesday afternoon that, tonight, she and her husband were moving her back into the first-floor office she previously shared with City Clerk Ellie Householder, who has had her own office on the third floor since the completion of reconstruction inside City Hall, last year.

The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 200 H Street in historic, downtown Rivertown or can be viewed on Comcast channel 24, AT&T U-verse channel 99, or live stream at


CA Dep’t of Cannabis Control wins court victory against illegal cannabis businesses 

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

$128 million in civil penalties

By California Department of Cannabis Control

The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) announced on Dec. 6, 2022, that it has won a significant legal victory against participants in the illegal cannabis market. Represented by its partners in the Attorney General’s Office, DCC obtained a court order awarding more than $128 million in civil penalties—the maximum sought by DCC—against businesses and individuals that were engaged in unlicensed commercial cannabis activity.

“This ruling sends a strong message that the illegal cannabis market will not be tolerated in California,” said DCC Director Nicole Elliott. “DCC and our partners will do everything in our power to protect consumers and maintain the integrity of California’s legal cannabis market. We applaud the Court for its commitment to enforcing the rule of law in California’s cannabis industry.”

The ruling builds on longstanding efforts by state licensing authorities to protect consumers and combat the illegal market. In 2019 and 2020, state authorities conducted an investigation that revealed unlicensed cannabis manufacturing and distribution in Canoga Park, California.

The investigation further revealed that this unlicensed activity was tied to an operator—Vertical Bliss, Inc.—that held licenses for other commercial cannabis activity. State authorities swiftly revoked those licenses and then brought a civil action seeking additional financial penalties against Vertical Bliss and other participants in its unlawful scheme.

The complaint alleged that Vertical Bliss conducted unlicensed operations on an undisclosed premise in Canoga Park, California, and inverted illegally manufactured product back into the regulated market. On October 2, 2019, in response to tips about illegal manufacturing and distribution of cannabis goods, the Division of Investigation executed search warrants at the unlicensed Canoga Park location. The search revealed significant quantities of cannabis concentrates, edibles, vape cartridges and raw materials. Seized records document the production of more than 3.3 million Kushy Punch brand gummies during an 18-month period, with an estimated value of $64 million.

Vertical Bliss simultaneously held cannabis manufacturing and distribution licenses for a premises located in Chatsworth, California. These licenses were revoked, following the discovery of the unlicensed operations.

The Medicinal and Adult-Use Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) establishes strict requirements for the cannabis market and products, including requiring a state license and local approval for every premises where commercial cannabis activity is conducted. Manufacturing, distributing or selling cannabis goods without a state license or at a location that is not licensed is a violation of state law. A person engaging in commercial cannabis activity without a license is subject to civil penalties of up to three times the amount of the license fee for each day of operation.

The case is Department of Cannabis Control v. Vertical Bliss, Inc., et al., No. 20CHCV00560, in the Superior Court of California in and for the County of Los Angeles. In addition to the seven defendants covered by the summary judgment ruling, DCC continues to pursue a just and appropriate resolution against one remaining defendant, whose conduct was not at issue in that ruling. Final judgment has not yet been entered in the case.

To file a complaint regarding illegal cannabis activity, click here – Enforcement Online Services

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.


$14.8 million of illegal marijuana seized during Wednesday raid in Antioch

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

CA Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife officers seize and dump illegal marijuana from a home on Mammoth Way in Antioch, Wednesday morning, Dec. 20, 2022. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Four homes raided, three on same street

By Allen D. Payton

Over $14.8 million worth of illegal marijuana was seized during a raid of four homes in Antioch on Wednesday. According to David Hafner, spokesman for the California Department of Cannabis Control  (DCC), “as a result of the four enforcement actions yesterday in Antioch, 16,614 plants, 674 pounds of processed flower, $14,818,650 – total estimated value of all the unlicensed cannabis products seized, and $11,725 of cash.”

Trays of illegal marijuana plants seen in the main garage of one home on Mammoth Way, were confiscated by officers and dumped into a trailer along with bags of marijuana materials from a side garage.

“Four people were cited and released,” he shared including a man and a woman who were occupants of a home on Mammoth Way, one of the four raided. They include two other homes on Mammoth Way and one on another nearby street. The identities of those cited was requested but not provided as of publication time.

The raid was assisted by Antioch Police and Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, as well as Antioch Code Enforcement.

Cannabis Control, Fish and Wildlife and Antioch Police officers and vehicles at the scene of one of four raids of illegal marijuana grows on Wednesday.

At the Mammoth Way home both Cannabis Control and Fish and Wildlife Officers could be seen carrying out trays of small plants from the garage and inside the house, and large bush-size plants from inside.

Front door of one Mammoth Way home was kicked in during the raid.

“Wow,” one of the Cannabis Control officers at the Mammoth Way home could be heard saying after seeing all the plants in the garage. “As far as the count goes it’s going to be a big number”.

Another Cannabis Control officer confirmed. Asked how many plants were being seized he responded, “Almost 11,000 plants in this one house.”

The door of the one Mammoth Way home was kicked in during the raid. Code Enforcement then red tagged the homes and cannot be occupied. Neighbors of the Mammoth Way home who were watching the raid said the occupants, a man and a woman, had lived there for two to three years. Asked if they thought something might be occurring at the house one of the neighbors said, “I could smell marijuana sometimes but since it’s legal wasn’t sure if it was someone smoking.”

This is the second raid on homes for illegal marijuana in Antioch, this year. In August and September, 17 warrants were served and 10,451 unlicensed indoor cannabis plants worth $7.3 million, $23,355 in cash and six guns were confiscated. (See related article)

The DCC is the California state agency that licenses and regulates cannabis businesses. DCC regulates the:

  • Growing of cannabis plants
  • Manufacture of cannabis products
  • Transportation and tracking of cannabis goods throughout the state
  • Sale of cannabis goods
  • Events where cannabis is sold or used
  • Labeling of goods sold at retail

Confiscated marijuana plants from the first enforcement activity in Antioch on Dec. 20, 2022, fill the trailer. Photo by David Hafner

Illegal marijuana plants in the garage of one of the four homes raided on Tuesday. Photo by David Hafner.

Illegal marijuana plants inside one of the four homes raided on Tuesday. Photo by David Hafner.

Photo by David Hafner.

Antioch council to consider two more cannabis businesses, hiring permanent city manager, again plus, discuss traffic calming needs

Monday, September 26th, 2022

Tuesday night: cannabis retail store proposed for Somersville Road, “nursery” for W. 10th St.; temporary office space for displaced non-profit organizations; $60K for “Faces of Opportunity” marketing campaign

By Allen D. Payton

During their regular meeting Tuesday night, Sept. 27, 2022, the Antioch City Council will discuss Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s proposed traffic calming devices on major city streets in response to the tragic accident that injured three school children, recently. They will also consider approving temporary office space agreements with four non-profit organizations displaced from the Rivertown Resource Center, two more cannabis businesses and funds for the “Faces of Opportunity” marketing campaign. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m.

During a closed session meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m., the council will once again consider hiring a permanent city manager, less than two months before the election, which is opposed by both Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, as well as the four other challengers in this year’s city council races.  (See complete meeting agenda packet, here).

Temporary Office Space for Displaced Non-Profit Org’s

During the Consent Calendar portion of the meeting agenda, the council will consider approving short-term lease agreements for temporary office space, inside the Nick Rodriguez Center,  with four of the 16 non-profit organizations that were displaced from the Rivertown Resource Center, when the city’s new Department of Community Services and Public Safety took it over, recently. The organizations include Rivertown Jamboree, Todos Unidos, Prison From the Inside Out and Mission Possible. (See related article)

Faces of Opportunity Citywide Marketing Campaign

In addition, with item K on the Consent Calendar, the council will consider spending $60,000 for a city-wide marketing campaign with Seattle-based Northwest Partners, entitled “Faces of Opportunity”. According to the staff report, On December 14, 2021, the City Council approved the marketing campaign which “focuses on real people that make Antioch a city of opportunity. The marketing team has selected a number of individuals who have compelling and inspirational stories to share.

The City Council previously authorized staff to execute media purchases not exceeding $185,000. However, the process of conducting the interviews, scheduling of the photography shoots, and creating the creative content extended beyond June 30, 2022.

Consequently, the funds authorized for media purchases were not expended. City purchasing policies require City Council authorization for payment of funds to any single vendor that exceeds $50,000. Northwest Media Partners was selected by the City’s media purchasing vendor, Orange22.”

Proposed First Cannabis Business on Somersville Road

The council will also consider approving another retail cannabis business, the first one in the Somersville and Delta Fair area at 2615 Somersville Road in the building between Wells Fargo Bank and Double Dragon Chinese restaurant.

Cannabis Nursery on W. 10th Street

The council will also consider approving the Delta View Nursery at 2101 W. 10th Street, next door to and in the same building as the Delta Dispensary.

Traffic Calming Needs Discussion

The last item on the council meeting agenda is a discussion of traffic calming devices. Following the accident caused by a driver passing in the oncoming traffic lane that resulted in serious injury of three school children walking home Friday afternoon, September 16, 2022, Thorpe and Area 1 Antioch School Board Trustee Antonio Hernandez posted a video on Facebook in which Thorpe proposed adding traffic calming devices, such as speed humps, to several city streets including Sycamore Drive, 10th Street, Davison Drive, James Donlon Blvd. and even Hillcrest Avenue.

The proposal comes after the council recently approved increasing the speed limit on several major thoroughfares in the city, including James Donlon Blvd., from 40 to 45 MPH. No action will be taken but direction to staff is requested.

Public Comments

The public has the opportunity to address the City Council on each agenda item. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”. Members of the public wishing to provide public comments, may do so in one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar Platform):

  1. IN PERSON – Fill out a Speaker Request Form, available near the entrance doors, and place in the Speaker Card Tray near the City Clerk before the City Council Meeting begins.
  2. VIRTUAL – To provide oral public comments during the meeting, please click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar:

▪ You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

▪ When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit:

When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak. When you are called to speak, please limit your comments to the time allotted (350 words, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). The City cannot guarantee that its network and/or the site will be uninterrupted.

  1. WRITTEN PUBLIC COMMENT – If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so in one of the following ways by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting:

(1) Fill out an online speaker card, located at, or

(2) Email the City Clerk’s Department at

Please note: Written public comments received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting will be shared with the City Council before the meeting, entered into the public record, retained on file by the City Clerk’s Office, and available to the public upon request. Written public comments will not be read during the City Council Meeting.

Viewing Meeting

Antioch City Council meetings are held inside the Council Chambers at City Hall at 200 H Street. They are televised live on Comcast channel 24, AT&T U-verse channel 99, or via live stream at

Antioch operation seizes over $7 million of illegal marijuana from multiple grow houses

Monday, September 12th, 2022

Officers from the CA Department of Cannabis Control, Antioch Polic other agencies outside one of the grow houses on August 31, 2022. All photos provided by residents who chose to remain anonymous.

17 warrants served, 10,451 unlicensed indoor cannabis plants, $23,355 in cash, six guns confiscated during two-day, multi-agency effort

Marijuana plant in trailer on Aug. 31, 2022.

By Darryl Saffold, Public Information Officer, Antioch Police Department

On Wed., August 31 and Wed., September 7, 2022, the Antioch Police Department assisted the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) with the service of several search warrants related to unlicensed indoor cannabis cultivations.

According to residents who witnessed the police action said several homes on Sanger Peak Way, Vallecito Way and Forty Niner Way were included, some red tagged with the message “Unsafe to Occupy” and some had their garage doors removed. (See photos, below)

With the assistance of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and Antioch Code Enforcement, approximately 10,451 unlicensed indoor cannabis plants were seized with an estimated value of $7.3 million. Additionally, $23,355 in cash was asset seized as well as six firearms were confiscated during the 17 warrants that were served throughout the city of Antioch.

The Antioch Police Department is dedicated to keeping the community safe and is devoted to capitalizing on any opportunity to work collaboratively with other agencies.

The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is the California state agency that licenses and regulates cannabis businesses. DCC regulates the:

  • Growing of cannabis plants
  • Manufacture of cannabis products
  • Transportation and tracking of cannabis goods throughout the state
  • Sale of cannabis goods
  • Events where cannabis is sold or used
  • Labeling of goods sold at retail

A house on Vallecito Way was red tagged on Aug. 31, 2022.

To learn more about the Department of Cannabis Control or the laws pertaining to cannabis, please visit:

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Another home was raided on Vallecito Way near Forty Niner Way on Aug. 31, 2022.

Red tag on a house on Vallecito Way on Aug. 31, 2022.

The garage doors of some of the homes were removed on during the raids on August 31, 2022.


Antioch Council approves one cannabis business, but not the first planned for Rivertown as Wilson recuses herself

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

District 4 councilwoman won’t say why; McCauley not happy

Approves on split vote changes to RV, boat parking ordinance allowing only 200 permits per year; allows parking on driveways in front of homes

Settle police use of force lawsuit for $495,000

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, August 23, the Antioch City Council voted 3-2 for another cannabis distribution business but split 2-2 with District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson recusing herself on the vote defeating the first cannabis retail business proposed for downtown Rivertown. In addition, the council voted 4-1 to allow RV and boat owners in the city to park them in front of their homes on their driveways. Finally, the council voted in closed session to settle a police use of force lawsuit.

RV Ordinance

The city will issue up to 200 permits per year to RV owners. However, according to the city staff report, the “946 permits from the current RV Registration System will be carried over into the new system and will not count towards the 200 annual cap.” The ordinance requires a three-foot setback from the sidewalk and property lines.

The ordinance provides the following definitions:

“RECREATIONAL VEHICLE. A personal vehicle, including but not limited to, a camping trailer, motorhome, tent trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, unmounted camper shell, boat, personal watercraft, utility trailer, or other mobile recreational equipment or watercraft, or any empty trailer intended for or capable of carrying any of the above.

MOTOR VEHICLE. Any automobile, truck, trailer, Recreational Vehicle, or other vehicle or equipment that is required to be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.”

After previous meetings and dozens of public comments on the matter, then hearing a few more members of the public speak on both sides of the issue Tuesday night, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock made the motion, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker seconded the motion, and it passed on a 4-1 vote with only Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica voting no.  RV Parking Ordinance ACC082322

Another Cannabis Distribution Business Approved on 3-2 Vote

The council also voted to approve another cannabis business at the former Goodwill location at the western corner of W. 10th Street, inside the same building as an existing cannabis retail business, called One Plant, which already has a use permit. (See related article)

Former Antioch Councilman and police officer Ralph Hernandez was the only person to speak on the item, opposing it stating, “marijuana is still illegally federally” and attracts crime.

“I’m kind of disappointed that the owner isn’t even here,” Ogorchock said. “I would only request that they improve the landscaping.”

“I believe the owner was present, but the first item ran long,” said Torres-Walker.

“We approved their application the first time,” Thorpe said.

Wilson moved approval of the cannabis distribution center at the location, and it passed 3-2 with Barbanica and Ogorchock voting no.

Wilson Recuses on Rivertown Retail Cannabis Business, Denied 2-2

The second cannabis business on the agenda, named FUEL to be the first one planned for Rivertown, the city’s historic downtown, was then introduced for a public hearing.

“AKA the McCauley Cartel,” Thorpe said with a chuckle.

“Something that’s been brought to my attention this afternoon,” Wilson said mentioning the city attorney, then recused herself from the dais. Asked why after the meeting she did not respond.

The council approved the downtown cannabis retail zone last year, Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs said in presenting the staff report. But the council waived the normal setback restrictions of 600 feet from a church or school.

Vinyak Shasry, the partner of Sean McCauley, who owns a variety of buildings and has brought several restaurants to the Rivertown Dining District and was also at the meeting, provided a presentation to the council “to convert what was a dance studio”.

“This will benefit the downtown area by bringing foot traffic,” he said. “It’s clean, it’s professional, it’s safe.”

The first speaker to oppose it at 11:50 p.m. was Hernandez saying, “Is marijuana healthy? No. Is it illegal? Yes. Marijuana has already been identified as a schedule one drug. Families suffer. Law enforcement is now checking drivers for marijuana.”

“The location that they showed pictures of, the dance studio, across from a federal credit union,” he stated. “Does it belong there? No. Can you guarantee our community that the people who will be under the influence of these products will be safe? I say, ‘no’.”

“They’re not going to consume them in the facility but as soon as they step out onto the sidewalk, they’re going to be walking or driving,” Hernandez stated. “It’s not going to be just restricted to this facility. They’re selling you a dream. They’re going to be using it in the streets in their cars. They’re going to make a lot of money.”

“Can’t we make money without marijuana?” he asked. “Don’t fall for this, people. Come on. If you’re really concerned about the safety of Antioch, you’ll vote no.”

Another member of the public to speak was homeless advocate Andrew Becker who said, “I want to come up and thank Ralph. It really takes a courageous person to come up and share truth. Here in California, we’ve made incredible strides in the marijuana industry and it’s incredibly disappointing to hear that the federal government hasn’t kept up with this.” He compared smoking marijuana to smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. “To consume recreational cannabis in California you have to be 21.”

Two more speakers supported the business and one more opposed it, citing the potential, negative impacts on homeless residents in the city.

During council discussion Barbanica spoke first saying, “When this overlay came before council a year ago…what I asked for simply was some boundaries, next to schools, churches, rehab centers. But it was shot down. I would be a hypocrite now to vote for something that I didn’t vote for with the overlay.”

“I do want to remind you that in that substitute motion you would have zero facilities downtown,” Thorpe stated.

“The only thing I’m looking at if this is to pass is the security on site,” Ogorchock said asking for two security officers.

“Is that an amendment the operator needs to make?” Torres-Walker asked.

“Yes,” Ogorchock responded.

“That’s part of the requirement. I believe that’s in there,” Shasry said.

“I see Captain Morefield shaking his head it’s in there, so there’s two,” Thorpe stated.

District 1 Councilwoman Torres-Walker then moved approval of the use permit for the cannabis retail business. Thorpe seconded. But it failed on a 2-2 tie.

“So, if there are two yes, two no, the motion doesn’t pass,” City Clerk Ellie Householder asked City Attorney Thomas Smith, which he confirmed.

McCauley Not Happy

Reached for comment Wednesday morning, asked if he had hosted a fundraiser for Wilson and if that’s why she recused herself, McCauley responded, “probably. But she shouldn’t have. This would have brought 1,000 new people a day and foot traffic to the downtown district. That’s the equivalent of 15 operators. The businesses need this foot traffic.”

“Right now, we have over a million dollars a month in restaurant revenue for the two large restaurants (Smith’s Landing and Monica’s Riverview),” he shared. “We need to get people into the downtown area, now.”

“They wanted it. I didn’t put the overlay down there, they did,” McCauley continued. “After I spent $10,000 trying to get it in there and getting it lined up. Then they voted it down. I don’t understand it.”

“If they’re going to have cannabis in the downtown area, I needed to control it to have the best operator to not ruin what I’ve done down there, not just some smoke shop,” he explained. “We wanted it to look like an Apple store. These are quality people, soccer moms, professionals. It’s not the black market.”

“If they want it on the outskirts everywhere else and have thousands in foot track everywhere else, fine. But they wanted it. There’s one license that they’re going to allow downtown,” McCauley stated. “That’s what our strategy was. Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen down there. We wanted to have the best operator in the downtown district. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the next person who’s going to come down there.”

“We opened Luxe Salon Studios down there. We have 40 new entrepreneurs in the downtown district. We’re trying to build momentum,” he added.

“I respect the decision of the council and would feel other operators in the downtown overlay would be treated accordingly,” McCauley stated.

Pressed further if he hosted a fundraiser for Wilson and about recusing herself, he said, “I let her use my property for a fundraiser. I didn’t contribute any money to her campaign. But I don’t really think that was the reason.”

Settle Police Use of Force Lawsuit

In other council action, reporting out from closed session before the regular meeting, City Attorney Smith said the city council agreed to a settlement of $495,000 in a case of police use of force. The motion was moved by Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica and seconded by Councilwoman Ogorchock and it was approved 5-0.

Conflicts of Interest Law, Questions for Wilson, City Attorney

According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission Conflicts of Interest, “a public official has a disqualifying conflict of interest in a governmental decision if it is foreseeable that the decision will have a financial impact on his or her personal finances or other financial interests. In such cases, there is a risk of biased decision-making that could sacrifice the public’s interest in favor of the official’s private financial interests. To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties, the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.”

Disqualifying Financial Interests

There are five types of interests that may result in disqualification:

  • Business Entity. A business entity in which the official has an investment of $2,000 or more in which he or she is a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee, or manager.
  • Real Property. Real property in which the official has an interest of $2,000 or more including leaseholds.  (However, month-to-month leases are not considered real property interests.)
  • Income. An individual or an entity from whom the official has received income or promised income aggregating to $500 or more in the previous 12 months, including the official’s community property interest in the income of his or her spouse or registered domestic partner.
  • Gifts. An individual or an entity from whom the official has received gifts aggregating to $500 or more in the previous 12 months.
  • Personal Finances. The official’s personal finances including his or her expenses, income, assets, or liabilities, as well as those of his or her immediate family.

Disqualifying Financial Impact or Effect

If a decision may have a financial impact or effect on any of the foregoing interests, an official is disqualified from governmental decision if the following two conditions are met:

  • The financial impact or effect is foreseeable, and
  • The financial impact or effect is significant enough to be considered material.

Generally, a financial impact or effect is presumed to be both foreseeable and material if the financial interest is ‘explicitly’ or directly involved in the decision. A financial interest is explicitly involved in the decision whenever the interest is a named party in, or the subject of, a governmental decision before the official or the official’s agency.

If the interest is “not explicitly involved” in the decision, a financial impact or effect is reasonably foreseeable if the effect can be recognized as a realistic possibility and more than hypothetical or theoretical. A financial effect need not be likely to occur to be considered reasonably foreseeable.

However, for interests “not explicitly involved” in the decision, different standards apply to determine whether a foreseeable effect on an interest will be material depending on the nature of the interest. The FPPC has adopted rules for deciding what kinds of financial effects are important enough to trigger a conflict of interest. These rules are called “materiality standards,” that is, they are the standards that should be used for judging what kind of financial impacts resulting from governmental decisions are considered material or important.

There are too many materiality standards to adequately review all of them here. To determine the applicable materiality standard, or to obtain more detailed information on conflicts, an official may seek assistance from agency counsel or the FPPC anytime the official has reason to believe a decision may have a financial impact or effect on his or her personal finances or other financial interests.


Not all conflicts of interest prevent a public official from lawfully taking part in the government decision. There are two limited exceptions to the conflict of interest rules:

  • The Public Generally Exception. A public official is not disqualified from a decision if the effect on the official’s interests is indistinguishable from the effect on the public.
  • Legally Required to Participate. In certain rare circumstances, a public official may be randomly selected to take part in a decision if a quorum cannot be reached because too many officials are disqualified under the Act.

Exceptions must be considered with care. A public official should contact agency counsel or the FPPC to determine if an exception applies.

Recusal Requirements

An official with a disqualifying conflict of interest may not make, participate in making, or use his or her position to influence a governmental decision. When appearing before his or her own agency or an agency subject to the authority or budgetary control of his or her agency, an official is making, participating in making, or using his or her position to influence a decision any time the official takes any action to influence the decision including directing a decision, voting, providing information or a recommendation, or contacting or appearing before any other agency official. When appearing before any other agency, the official must not act or purport to act in his or her official capacity or on behalf of his or her agency.

Certain officials (including city council members, planning commissioners, and members of the boards of supervisors) have a mandated manner in which they must disqualify from decisions made at a public meeting (including closed session decisions) and must publicly identify a conflict of interest and leave the room before the item is discussed.

While there are limited exceptions that allow a public official to participate as a member of the public and speak to the press, the exceptions are interpreted narrowly and may require advice from your agency’s counsel or the FPPC.”

The following questions were emailed Wednesday morning to both Wilson and City Attorney Smith asking “Monica, which disqualifying financial interest did you have to cause you to recuse yourself from voting on the​ Fuel cannabis retail business proposed for G Street, last night?

Do you own a financial interest in the business? Do you own a financial interest in the​ building where it was to be located? Does someone in your immediate family work for Mr. McCauley’s proposed cannabis business or any of his businesses? Was it because Sean McCauley allowed you to hold a campaign event at his property on Deer Valley Road? If so, how is that a conflict of interest since there was no personal financial gain, only a benefit to your campaign?

Thomas, did you advise the councilwoman to recuse herself? If so, on what basis?”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.