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Mendocino man convicted of employing minors in marijuana operation

KARL MICHAEL WITT, 46

Ukiah, Friday, February 23. -- A commercial marijuana entrepreneur operating out of southern Humboldt County was convicted by plea Thursday afternoon in the Mendocino County Superior Court for employing underage workers.

Under the laws in place since Proposition 64 was passed, employees must be at least 21 to work in an area where marijuana is processed for the purposes of sales, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney (DA). Employing underage workers is a misdemeanor.

The executive director of Eden Farms Cooperative, Inc., 46-year-old Karl Michael Witt of Redway, plead no contest to the charge. He was arrested on Dec. 7, 2017 by the California Highway Patrol in Mendocino County, according to the DA.

The DA said Witt was placed on a grant of court probation for 36 months.

The terms of Witt's probation include serving 14 days in county jail with credit for 14 days already served, 100 hours of community service and a fine of $18,700. He will also have his Fourth Amendment rights waived and will not be allowed to possess any marijuana until he has a valid state license and county permit. Witt is also prohibited from participating in the Emerald Cup, an annual Humboldt County cannabis competition, during the period of his probation.

The DA said there are an additional four individuals who are facing prosecution "flowing out of the same underlying criminal conduct," adding that "those individuals will be addressed separately in future court proceedings."

"The marijuana black market remains alive and well in Mendocino County and elsewhere, despite the ongoing effort by local and state officials to shine a light on, gain oversight control over, and otherwise regulate the local marijuana trade from seed to consumption," The DA said.

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