Tuesday night saw one of Los Angeles’s most storied dispensaries have a rough run-in with law enforcement and The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
TLC is famously the headquarters of the Jungle Boys. They are one of the premier examples of urban farmers bootstrapping their way to success in the modern cannabis industry, which has seen so many tragically fall short and have to sell a piece, or sell out completely. So as one of the culture’s best success stories in a world of corporate dogs, the community was pissed to see what they had to go through last night.
Why? Because we’ve watched them jump through every hoop that’s ever existed for the legal cannabis market in L.A. and maintain a quality that is better than most. While some would say, “Well, this is legal cannabis,” in regards to the raid, and wouldn’t be wrong, those with a bit more hope in their hearts would be pissed to see someone who’s done so well up to this point be treated like this.
So what happened? We talked with Ivan from the Jungle Boys to find out.
“At five o’clock in the evening, we’re all sitting inside of the shop. It’s the first of the month so we’re paying all our bills,” Ivan told High Times. “We look up at the camera and see one car, two cars, three cars, four cars, and are like ‘holy shit, they must be chasing someone inside of our building,’ you know? We watched them come up and my first thought was either they’re chasing someone inside of our building or someone that worked for us maybe has a warrant or something.”
As they started to watch the employees get corralled by law enforcement, they realized the situation was quickly turning into something else. Ivan explained the shock of that moment, “We started seeing a round-up of all our employees into the front lobby area and were like, ‘are we fucking raided?’”
He immediately jumped on the line with his lawyer as he looked at the cameras. He then explained what happened next, “Right next to the office, two cops come with guns on us, put them in our face, tell us to get to the fucking ground, this is basically a raid, and we’re like what the fuck?” Ivan spent the first hour presuming someone had really screwed up somewhere to cause this kind of event at the shop.
“I was thinking in my head we owed them millions of dollars,” Ivan said. “I’ve never seen it where you have Highway Patrol undercovers, LAPD, sheriff, every agency there all working together.”
Eventually, the TLC team would discover this was all caused by a fine discrepancy with the CDTFA from when their offices were closed during the pandemic and dispensaries couldn’t pay taxes in cash. Despite the $18 million they did receive from the Jungle Boys last year, they decided to move forward with this action on a $66,000 sum the Jungle Boys already received a hearing date for.
The CDTFA regularly inspects California dispensaries. They’ll come in and ask to see your last few invoices to make sure everything is in order. We asked Ivan if, during those site inspections that have increased over the last year, anything seemed off or ever felt like things weren’t cool? He said it always seemed normal. They would come, say what they wanted to see, and TLC would go along with it.
But once Ivan realized what was really up, they weren’t going along with this.
“They’re trying to charge us late fees,” Ivan realized in that moment. “And we appealed that.”
TLC provided all the paperwork to the arriving authorities, but apparently, that still wasn’t enough.
“They won’t talk to our lawyer. They won’t look at the appeal paperwork,” Ivan said as he relived the shock of it all. “They just basically said they’re taking all the money inside the building. I’m like, wait, this is over the $66,000?”
At this point, Ivan’s demeanor started to change.
“I’m like, fuck you motherfuckers, what the fuck? You’re fucking raiding our building over a fucking dispute that we have a date set that you guys have the email, you guys received it, you guys fucking accepted it! We send you faxes. We have all the paperwork, here it is. This is what this is about? I thought this was over, like, millions of fucking dollars that we messed up on.”
As Ivan was raging, the CDTFA cleared out $174,000 dollars from TLC. They even emptied the tip jars for the budtenders at the counter.
“This is our standard procedure for cannabis businesses or any business. We’re not singling out any industry or type of business. If you owe taxes in California, we do our best to collect what is due,” the CDTFA told High Times.