FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – As illegal cannabis continues to cause big problems for California’s legal dispensaries, The California Department of Justice has announced a new partnership with the City of Fresno to curb illegal cannabis sales.

Attorney General Rob Bonta signed the agreement between the city and state Tuesday, to make Fresno the first participant in the DOJ’s new Cannabis Administrative Prosecutor Program, or CAPP.

“We’ll issue citations, notices of violations, orders to abate the illegal activity, operators will then have the opportunity to voluntarily shut down. But if they don’t, we’ll take action to ensure they do,” said Bonta.

The program will provide funds, staffing, and investigative resources to partner cities and counties, to crack down on illegal shops and also growing and distribution sites. 

Fresno City Attorney Andrew Janz says the primary targets for the city are smoke shops, hookah lounges, and tobacco stores.

He believes there are currently over a dozen unregulated shops illegally selling marijuana within city limits.

At many of these establishments, he cited the frequency in which things have turned deadly.

“Many shootings and murders that we’ve seen in the past year have led back to these places like hookah lounges. We had a former Fresno City Councilwoman; her son was killed. [That] led back to a hookah lounge,” said Janz.

Janz said many illegal products they have seen are being produced to lure in children.

“They’re targeting our kids. This looks like candy,” he said as he pointed to an image showing various candy and snack brands infused with THC.

“We got a call yesterday from a local principal who has evidence that a local smoke shop is doing this. So, it’s happening right now,” explained Janz.

The new program also aims to choke funds from the illegal sites.

“We will no longer stand by and let you stifle the permitted cannabis industry. We will hit you where it hurts. Your bank accounts, your wallets, your pocketbooks,” said Janz.

As for the fines for violating businesses and sites, the city will work with the Attorney General’s Office to make them more aggressive against violators.

Fresno’s current fines for these types of instances start at $250 and go up to $1,000.