This month, California has shown an increase in law enforcement activity targeting illegal marijuana growers. A statement from the California Attorney General’s Office said that on November 4, 148 people were arrested by local, state and federal law enforcement officers.
During the raids, California Police seized $1.5 billion worth of illegally grown marijuana. Under California’s “Campaign Against Marijuana Planting” (CAMP) activity, the operations lead authorities to seize and destroy 953,459 plants grown at 345 different cannabis grow sites throughout Southern, Central and Northern California. The November 4 raids also saw 168 weapons confiscated by police.
By comparison, this most recent clampdown resulted in almost three times as many arrests than did the CAMP raids of 2018. At that time, 52 people were arrested and 614,267 illegally grown marijuana plants were destroyed. Similarly, way back in 2009, agents also made big inroads when they seized 4.5 million illegally grown marijuana plants.
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Protecting the Community and the Environment
When speaking about the success of this CAMP activity, Attorney General Xavier Becerra noted that removing illegal growers from the landscape will help protect local wildlife, waterways and the unsuspecting public from the effects of exposure to multiple hazardous chemicals.
“Illegal cannabis growers are devastating our communities. Criminals who disregard life, poison our waters, damage our public lands, and weaponized the illegal cannabis black market will be brought to justice,” Becerra said.
An official statement from the California Attorney General’s Office noted that the targeted sites were filled with trash and debris, prohibited pesticides (including aluminum phosphate,
methyl parathion, carbonfuran, and other illegal fertilizers), and were at fault for releasing large amounts of these hazardous substances into California’s waterways.
Raids Sending a Message
The California Department of Justice spearhead these CAMP raids, and teams involved issued more than 120 search warrants across 35 different Californian counties. Agents who brought production at scores of illegal cannabis growth sites to a halt have helped to reduce the threat of harmful chemicals and dangerous criminal activity, to which the public would otherwise have been exposed.
This kind of law enforcement activity parlays nicely with other state attempts to curtail the illicit marijuana market, such as Assembly Bill 97, which permits $30,000 per-day-fines for illegal cannabis business operations. The bill was intended to encourage black market businesses to apply for state commercial cannabis licenses, and takes a tougher stance than the smaller illegal business activity fines which business owners have basically ignored thus far.
At this point, industry insiders are happy to see law enforcement branches taking action against illegal cannabis businesses, who seem to have been operating relatively uninterrupted for a very long time. Raids such as these are especially satisfying to marijuana business owners who’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure their operations are legitimate and continuing to meet state requirements.
Hopefully, sustained law enforcement activity of this kind will also encourage other illicit businesses to convert their operations to legal outfits as well. It seems consistent and firm reminders may be required to serve as ongoing persuaders, at least for now.
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Assembly Bill 97