By Veronica Morgan
Despite growing support for legalizing marijuana in California, authorities have begun staging a massive multiple county raids. California Department of Fish & Game has joined forces with local law enforcement and DEA agents in seizing at least 100,000 plants, grown by local farmers. This is being called the “raid of the decade.”
The so-called Emerald Triangle is comprised of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity Counties, the largest producers of pot in the nation. Many prominent citizens in the Emerald Triangle have come out publicly as growers, even some involved in legislative reform. These civic leaders have become the targets, according to Hezekiah Allen, Director of the Emerald Growers Association.
Allen said, “…many of our community members have courageously stepped forward and publicly proclaimed themselves as farmers. They are seeking regulation, seeking collaboration with government agencies and research institutions. These farmers who have stepped forward are keys to solutions.”
Ironically, the authorities are not focusing on the Mexican cartels that have become a major problem in the area. The targeted grows are on private property with independent water sources. The cartels, growers claim, are emptying the aquifers and streams, as well as creating a public danger in our National Forest lands. Some sources sight being shot at while riding a quad or sport utility vehicle, unknowingly stumbling upon a cartel grow.
The drought conditions in California have exacerbated the debate, as Fish & Game has released findings that the salmon streams are drying up, and other species of fish are in danger. Critics point to the pot growers. Independent pot growers blame vineyards and the cartels for stripping the resources.
Lt. Wayne Hanson of the Humboldt Sheriff’s Department reported the average grow they are targeting is about 8,000 plants, but his largest raid took 133,000 plants in a three day period. Mendocino Sheriff Tom Allman will release a statement from his department on Friday.
The Island Mountain area is a mountainous region where the three counties converge. The demographics make the land private, and secluded, with vast acres to dedicate to pot. Warrants have been issued, and will continue to be served until the end of June 2015. Thousands of plants have been seized, but so far, no arrests have been made.