Hello and welcome to Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, January 31. I am Justin Ray.

A bizarre situation involving money from the sale of marijuana in California highlights the delicate tension between California’s progressive stance on cannabis and federal law.

The story begins in November, with an armored car bearing $712,000 in cash licensed marijuana dispensaries. The car was heading towards Barstow on a highway in the Mojave Desert. The vehicle was stopped by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies. They questioned the driver, seized the money and turned it over to the FBI.

The same driver was arrested again a few weeks later. During this stop, deputies took an additional $350,000 from legal pot shops and gave that money to the FBI as well.

The agencies do not return the money. In fact, the FBI is trying to confiscate the nearly $1.1 million bounty, which it may split with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The FBI says the money is tied to federal drug crimes or money laundering. No specified illegal activity was disclosed and no one was charged with a crime.

Cash Seizures by Federal Authorities

The case may have larger implications.

Judge John W. Holcomb of the U.S. District Court in Riverside is currently considering a request from Empyreal Logistics, the company whose armored cars were gutted, for an emergency order to force the two agencies to stop arresting the cars and taking money without proof of illegal activity. The company also wants the money back.

The sheriff’s department and federal authorities deny wrongdoing.

“This is one of the most egregious forfeiture cases we’ve ever seen,” said Dan Alban, senior counsel at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group that fights nationwide forfeiture abuses. and is representing Empyreal in its lawsuit. Alban called the cash grabs a “very cynical attempt to exploit differences between federal and state laws” on marijuana.

The case is reminiscent of another in which the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles were forced to return tens of millions of dollars in cash and valuables seized by federal agents from hundreds of safe deposit boxes in Beverly Hills. The government was unable to provide evidence of wrongdoing after alleging the money and property were the result of criminal activity. It should be mentioned that some of this money belonged to owners of state-licensed marijuana businesses.

But there is more to know about the case involving Empyreal vehicles stopped by authorities, including other reasons why, although cannabis is legal in California, it is difficult to operate in the industry in the state.

And now, Here’s what’s happening across California:

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How California’s rooftop solar program became a victim of its own spectacular success. Started in 1995 and advanced a decade later when the then government. Arnold Schwarzenegger has set a goal of one million solar installations, California’s program to stimulate the installation of solar panels on roofs has greatly exceeded this goal. But it caused issues that may prevent some people from getting them in the future. Los Angeles Times

Former Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, along with former Senator Kevin Murray and other local elected officials, joined high school students, solar business leaders and workers, renewable energy advocates and community leaders at Buchanan High School on December 12, 2019, to celebrate the completion of one million solar rooftops across California.

(Tomas Oval)


The Rams are heading to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. The Los Angeles football team defeated the San Francisco 49ers in a 20-17 thriller and will be looking to win its first Super Bowl in Los Angeles when it takes on the Cincinnati Bengals on February 13. Los Angeles Times

Now that the Hollywood guilds have weighed in, do we have a favorite for the Best Picture Oscar? “Judging from the slates of these bands, it would seem that reflecting the tastes of moviegoers – particularly the PGA [Producers Guild of America]an organization that has recognized box office successes in the past – is pretty low on the priority list this awards season,” says Glenn Whipp. Los Angeles Times

Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani sitting on a couch in a "Gucci House" scene.

Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani in Ridley Scott’s ‘House of Gucci’.

(Goldwyn Mayer Metro)

Dozens of weapons stolen from trains cause more problems in Los Angeles “I’m 24 in the LAPD, ex-military, secret clearance and I have to wait 10 days to get a new gun and these guys walk into these containers with no locks and get guns,” Capt. German Hurtado said. Los Angeles Times

People are rummaging through boxes on the train tracks.

People search through stolen boxes from cargo containers littered on Union Pacific train tracks near Mission Boulevard January 15 in Los Angeles.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

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The town of Gilroy completed the installation of an El Camino Real Memorial Mission Bell downtown Friday over objections from local Native Americans. Members of the Amah Mutsun tribal band had protested the project, saying it was a symbol of oppression by the Spanish padres who founded California’s series of Catholic missions from the 1760s to the 1830s “Tens of thousands of natives forced to build adobe churches succumbed to European diseases,” writes Julia Prodis Sulek. City council members who favored the project declined interview requests from Mercury News. Mercury News


The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Scott Jones are being sued after an attack on a mentally ill inmate who suffered ‘catastrophic brain damage’. Anthony Cravotta II, 45, is expected to remain on life support for the rest of his life after his cellmate attacked him on September 26, 2021, according to the lawsuit. The incident took place after Cravotta was assigned to the general prison population pending discharge to a state hospital. The sheriff’s office said it does not comment on ongoing litigation. KCRA

In LA prison, health workers say deputies discourage vaccinations and deface COVID-19 signs. “LA County Sheriff’s Deputies are flouting COVID-19 regulations and spreading lies about vaccines inside the beleaguered Twin Towers correctional facility,” LAist reported, citing multiple healthcare workers. A healthcare worker reportedly saw MPs trying to convince unvaccinated incarcerated people with mental illnesses to forego the vaccine, telling them it “makes you clear the coronavirus”. list


How worried should we be about the new BA.2 Omicron subtype? California has identified a number of cases of BA.2, a sublineage of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that is gaining increasing attention. Here’s what we know. Los Angeles Times

A healthcare worker administers a coronavirus PCR test to a person.

Jeffrey Toth administers a coronavirus PCR test in Colton, California.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)


Santa Cruz Starbucks workers filed a labor petition with the National Labor Relations Board, becoming the first store in California to do so. Twenty-two of Starbucks’ 31 employees reportedly signed union cards. Workers can begin the process of unionizing if they meet the minimum requirement of at least 30% of employees signing cards or a petition indicating they wish to do so. “As long as Starbucks continues to place its profits on its partners, the partners have a moral obligation to organize,” 13 former and current Starbucks employees said in a letter to Starbucks president and CEO. KSBW

‘A cloud never dies’: California monastery mourns mindfulness advocate Thich Nhat Hanh. “Our teacher is not dying, he is just manifesting differently now,” said Brother Phap Dung, a dharma teacher at the monastery. “The cloud becomes rain, becomes grass, becomes tea. He’s not dead now, he’s just in a different form. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: Cloudy 69 San Diego: Covered 64 San Francisco: Cloudy 59 San Jose: Cloudy 62 Fresno: Cloudy 62 Sacrament: Cloudy 61


I recently asked readers what music they listen to when they want a little nostalgia in their lives. Here is a response from Lisa Peterson:

Absolutely my California musical memory is the song “Light My Fire” by The Doors. Every time I hear it, I’m transported to the first time I remember hearing it, at a public pool in Clovis. I would have been 6 in 1967 when the song came out. We lived in Oakland, but visited my great-great-uncle (an immigrant from Denmark) during the summers. My siblings and I would have been so bored visiting our uncle, so we went to the local swimming pool. I clearly remember hearing this amazing song, with the singer’s haunting voice and the electric piano riff. Such an epic memory.

If you have a memory or a story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please limit your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send your comments to essentia[email protected]


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