Nipomo cannabis growers agree to pay $500,000 for alleged illegal activity

August 4, 2020

Correction: San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett signed an order giving the court jurisdiction to enforce a $500,000 settlement and the destruction of cannabis. Garrett did not rule on the state’s allegations.


A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge approved a settlement last month, in which two Nipomo marijuana businesses agreed to pay more than $500,000 to resolve civil penalties, legal fees, and investigation and destruction of cannabis costs to the state.

On March 13, 2019, state investigators raided a warehouse complex at 887 Mesa Road, the former Clearwater Nursery. CFAM and Lowell Herb were operating out of the warehouse, according to a California Department of Fish and Game incident report. While CFAM had a license to process and store cannabis on the property, it was illegally subletting to unlicensed cannabis businesses.

During the raid, regulators seized 1,387 pounds of loose flower buds, 7,162 jars of flower buds, 17,600 pre-rolls (marijuana cigarettes), 125 pounds of cannabis kief and 60 pounds of cannabis shake.

Judge Ginger Garrett approved the settlement agreement in which the defendants — Brett Myers Vapnek, David Elias, Lowell Farms, and The Hacienda Company — agreed to pay $500,000 to resolve the civil penalties, and $46,413 for attorney fees and the cost of the investigation and destruction of the illegal cannabis products.

During the raid, Vapnek admitted he had been operating without a license from Dec. 2018 through March 13, 2019, according to court records. Vapnek also runs Nipomo Ag, a cannabis cultivation company.

Even though the defendants agreed to pay $500,000 to resolve the state’s civil penalties, they did not admit to the allegations.

“By engaging in unlicensed commercial cannabis activity, defendants placed unregulated cannabis into the cannabis market, thereby causing economic harm to California’s legal commercial cannabis industry and supporting the illegal cannabis market,” according to the state. “Defendants’ distribution and sale of illegal products that are potentially untested … create grave public health and safety risks to Californians.

“Moreover, by engaging in unlicensed commercial cannabis activity, defendants deprived the CDFA of licensing fees and tax revenue.”

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Some right wing squares in this discussion thread that preach less government except for things they don’t agree with. Hypocrites. If they’re not causing environmental destruction let growers grow.

“The buying and selling of dope in this country may be the last vestige of free enterprise left” – Sargeant Stedenko.

Nice. I love hearing this. Let’s use it to help fund law enforcement.

The last thing we need is more law enforcement.

Well if that’s the case, after the next shooting, then you and your favorite social worker go talk with gang banger’s in Santa Maria, and Lompoc and set them straight. Don’t forget your bag of “skunk weed” before you head out. I wish you luck.

Sorry, these fines will never ever be paid. The Probation Department doesn’t care, and the restitution requirements apparently have no teeth in them. I got one payment of $75 (toward $6000 in damages) after being rear-ended in 2006. The perp has been in and out of jail but somehow Probation and law enforcement never seem to look at her record. These guys won’t stay in jail or prison due to coronavirus and its being a “non-violent, non-sexual, non-serious crime” under the rules of realignment.

Maybe there should be a court-ordered sale of the land to pay these fines with a specific prohibition against growing pot there. I bet the $500,000 would appear the next day!

They should sell it to raise money for the county. SLOCO Dispensary.

What they should look at is what local politicians these people donated to.

I assume that is a rhetorical question…

They admitted they knew they were violating the law, revoke their license and shut the darn place down! oh, throw their sorry behinds in jail!

This is California, no one goes to jail for growing weed anymore. Why make the taxpayers pay $80,000+/yr to put them in jail when the state can collect millions in fines via permitting and environmental violations. It’s all about the $$$$$.

There is nothing positive that comes out of marijuana!

You should ask veterans who suffer from PTSD and marijuana relieves them. You should ask those with violent tendencies who use marijuana to calm them. You’re ignorant scum.

Ya, those epilepsy patients that haven’t had a seizure since switching to cannabis…. those suffering from Parkinson’s disease who can now feed themselves without shaking…. the cancer patients who couldn’t hold down a bite of food until cannabis came into their lives… nothing positive at all.

It’s not like the US gov’t holds several patents on the medicinal value (, or the hundreds of other patents they have issued to big pharma companies. There is no such thing as an FDA approved cannabis derived medicine right? (Epidiolex).

“defendants deprived the CDFA of licensing fees and tax revenue” … OK … CDFA? California Department of Fish and Amphibians or Arachnids or ??? And what is “cannabis kief” and “cannabis shake”? Sounds like a ’50’s dance move, as in ‘come on baby let’s do the cannabis shake’. … Think I dated myself.