Illegal pot grows on the rise in California

April 10, 2017

Though California is becoming increasingly tolerant of marijuana usage and cultivation, there has been a recent surge of large-scale illegal grows in the state, particularly in national forests. Officials say the grows are killing wildlife, polluting the environment, using mass quantities of water and leading to violent confrontations between Mexican cartel-affiliated growers and officers, as well as scientists. [Business Insider]

In 2016, authorities removed an estimated 1.1 million illegal pot plants in California. As much as 80 percent of the illegal marijuana plants that authorities removed were being grown on federal land, and that amount is just a fraction of what officials find.

Mourad Gabriel, the executive director of the nonprofit Integral Ecology Research Center, said pot growers who are trespassing on public land are using poisons to protect their plants. One such poison is carbofuran, a neurotoxic insecticide that is banned in the United States, Canada and the European Union and causes symptoms ranging from nausea and blurred vision to spontaneous abortions and death. Growers often store the chemicals in Gatorade bottles, which investigators find lying in the forest, Gabriel said.

The toxic chemicals appear to be killing endangered species, particularly the Pacific fisher, a cat-sized carnivore that lives in old-growth forests in the Rockies and Sierra Nevadas. Gabriel and his colleagues tested 58 fisher carcasses they collected over the previous three years and discovered that more than 80 percent had rodenticide in their systems.

In 2016, scientists tested 22 radio-collared fishers that apparently died of natural causes, yet each one had a type of synthetic poison in its system. The rodenticide also showed up in nursing kits, meaning mothers had passed it to their offspring through their milk.

Craig Thompson, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service who studies fishers in the Sierras, said he can stand at the intersection of two forest roads and generally know of three or four pot grows within a quarter mile.

“It’s a massive problem,” Thompson said. “People don’t tend to grasp the industrial scale of what’s going on. There are thousands of these sites in places the public thinks are pristine, with obscene amounts of chemicals at each one. Each one is a little environmental disaster.”

Gabriel and Thompson fear the poisons may spread far beyond the grow sites and contaminate the water supply of cities and towns located far downstream. The toxins can leach into soil and linger for years.

Law enforcement officials believe many of the illegal grows in California are set up by Mexican drug cartels. The cartels prefer to ship marijuana from state to state, rather than smuggle it across the border.

The growers whom authorities arrest are often illegal immigrants in their 20s from the Mexican state of Michoacan and they tend to be experienced in covert agriculture and hard living. They make about $150 a day over periods of two to four months, which is much more than they would earn working at a farm or winery.

Growers have followed, detained, threatened, pursued and shot at officers, as well as civilians, including scientists and field techs. Additionally, two K9s were stabbed while apprehending suspects.

Another concern with illegal marijuana grows is water use. Gabriel estimates illegal grows use 50 percent more water due to less efficient irrigation systems.

Also, some illegal growers leave their irrigation systems running around the clock year-round, even when nothing is growing. Gabriel estimates the 1.1 million illegal marijuana plants that were removed in California in 2016 would have used about 1.3 billion gallons of water, approximately the yearly usage of 10,000 California households.


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LAH

I’m not a stoner, but it would make sense if most everyone who smokes just grew their own. No big business! Cartels have no market. No More Poisoning the Forests!

Seems the only customers will be the under aged kids. Otherwise, can’t you just go to the local pot shop? Oh ya, No towns want them around..so by denying Authorized Pot shops the cities are inadvertently supporting the Cartels!


Rambunctious

1927 Illegal stills on the rise

2017 Illegal pot grows on the rise


copperhead

Well, at least late night pizza delivery and sales of Doritos are up. Brain cells and ambition are down. Not shocking so many gen x, y, z boys are moving back in with their parents, or have never left.


tomjones

gen x,y,zers all moving back cuz they’rs stoners? Nothin to do with the worst economy since the great depression, got it.


And it’s alcohol, not cannabis that kills brain cells, you nit wit…you should probably drink another beer before you hop off your high horse of ignorance. But your comments are quite in line with the rest of the idiot comments I generally see on this forum…I love to read them.


copperhead

An aggressive stoner. That’s a switch. Your research would be more compelling without the name calling.


The worst economy since the Great Depression? There weren’t too many kids hanging out in Starbucks or playing video games, or who had the discretionary income to spend to get high during the Great Depression.


You may want to rethink that brain cell stance as you might be living proof.


paragon

It’s funny how all you potheads get your panties in a twist if anyone so much as suggests smoking weed has any negative affects. The same idiots that think vaccines cause autism and smart meters cause brain cancer somehow think you can light a weed on fire and inhale the toxic fumes and somehow there is no way it can cause you any harm.


You can easily tell a long time pot user by listening to them talk, but no, there is NO WAY it changes your brain… LOL


abigchocoholic

Not shocking so many gen x, y, z boys are moving back in with their parents, or have never left.

———————

That’s because there’s nothing yet. The greedy baby boomers have sucked the world dry with their wars and consumption and entitlements leaving shambles for future generations.


The oceans are contaminated. The trees have been cut. The nutrients in the land have been leeched. The fresh water has been used up. The middle-class jobs have been shipped overseas so the baby boomers stock prices would go up. The infrastructure is old and falling apart and the nation is so far in debt the only way to recover is to just lie and print money with nothing backing it.


The baby boomers set it up so they got the wealth, the huge house, the fat pension and the savings and now, all they want are low-level servants to wait on them until they die.


Thanks for nothing.


Reality check.


copperhead

The boomers having taken everything is a total cop out. Our economy is not a zero sum game. The pie grows and shifts. You just have to be smart and ambitious enough to grab some of that pie and grow it further.


Elon Musk (tesla) isn’t whining that baby boomers screwed him, neither is Michael Dell, Zuckerberg and on and on. There is more opportunity and wealth today in this country than ever!


abigchocoholic

Our economy is not a zero sum game.

————————

who said it was? Naming a few billionaires as proof that the baby boomers haven’t ruined the nation is a joke. Your chances of becoming a Musk or Dell or Zuckerberg are about 1 in a 100 million. If you think those are good odds, you might as well put all your money into lotto tickets.


That you never addressed the middle class job loss or the record debt and deficit spending speaks volumes.


And yes, the earth is a closed system. Notice how you never even addressed what the baby boomers have done to the planet in the name of material greed.


And don’t even get me started on the absolute hatred half the nation (Democrats) have for the other half (republicans).


Ya, you baby boomers are regular poster boys for how to ensure the success of your offspring. Great role modeling.


jimmy_me

The cartels are here to make a buck. The price of cannabis remains high due to limits on various levels of growers and the fact that everyone in the systems is trying to make a buck off of it. The bud I effortlessly grow for a few bucks an ounce sells for hundreds of dollars an ounce at local dispensaries. The math is really simple. Remove restrictions and greed, and the price drops, then the cartels disappear.


abigchocoholic

The math is really simple. Remove restrictions and greed, and the price drops, then the cartels disappear.

————-

It bears repeating. It’s all about supply and demand. A pound of roasted coffee sells for $8. A bushel of wheat $4. You can get a pretty good bottle of wine for $6, which took a lot of land, time, grape growing, water usage, pesticides, picking, storage, monitoring, machines, infrastructure, processing and a bottle and a cork.


When society is ready–marijuana can be an even cheaper product.


rukidding

I wonder if the cartel will just walk away or would they eliminate the competition?


Snoid

Where are all the tree huggers now? Poisoned waters, dead animals, polluted lands. You to cowardly to get involved? Where are the protests, the marches, the screams of justice for nature, the fund raisers for the law who rids our lands of this garbage and the scum who cultivate it.


tomjones

Cuz the law who rids our lands of it has completely FAILED in their task. A task in which they have been given billions for the last 40 years…and absolutely nothing to show for it.


legalization has been the call of “tree huggers” for decades…legalize and regulate, just like any other crop.


If you don’t see the tree huggers, its cuz you need to pull your head out…


rukidding

Well with all of this said they just “legalized” it. Does anyone really think that these drug cartels are going to walk into any city or county and identify themselves and request to obtain a permit and go thru all of the hoops that will be in place and follow the rules? It’s only going to get worse because there ample proof of what these cartels do to their competition. Get ready for the the bloodbath, or will this all be declared a sanctuary situation?


UnReasoned

Well, we have a great precedent set by Prohibition, 1920-1933, where some very similar events took place including the rise of organized crime. Blood baths ensued when highly profitable illegal rum-running clashed with law enforcement. This legislation will allow our law enforcement agencies to target cartels with illegal grow operations more effectively. This effect would be expedited if more states legalized it by allowing law abiding citizens to grow their own pot and easing the supply bottleneck created by black markets. That is why: “The cartels prefer to ship marijuana from state to state, rather than smuggle it across the border.”


Jorge Estrada

I need to get this straight, is the California legal drug cartel in competition with the Mexican illegal drug cartel? Wouldn’t it be smarter to just have the California cartel do the growing for the Mexican cartel and collect the taxes on that money too? No I didn’t steal this idea from Mad Comics.