State's Bong Auction, Meant to Bring In Millions, Netted $2K

California's auction went bust after trying to sell confiscated fixtures
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2024 12:45 PM CST
California's Bong Auction Was a Big Disappointment
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/SvetlanaSF)

When the state of California raided 10 cannabis businesses that collectively owed $14 million in back taxes, officials had high hopes for the goodies they seized, with plans to put them all up for auction to raise millions. The grand haul after a Feb. 16 sale of various glass bongs and other paraphernalia: $2,075, a spokesperson for the state's Department of Tax and Fee Administration tells SFGate. According to a CDTFA release, nine out of 10 of the cannabis businesses that originally housed the bongs and other gear were illegal.

The money that was supposed to be raised by hawking the seized items was set to pay back the taxes owed by these companies. Other items sold at the Los Angeles auction included cash registers, a sandwich board, and a snow cone machine, per the North Bay Business Journal. Over the past several years, the agency has held more than 2,200 inspections and seized almost $90 million in products and cash from noncompliant businesses. "Unlicensed cannabis operators not only undercut legitimate businesses, but they also cheat California communities out of revenue for vital programs," CDTFA Director Nick Maduros said after a previous raid in 2022. (More bongs stories.)

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