California is getting closer every day to the long awaited reality of retail recreational cannabis, with the world’s largest marijuana market set to open to the world’s consenting adults early next year. But, as we’ve seen in states like Colorado, Oregon and with the California’s own medical program, not all of the industry’s underground producers are ready to sign on the government’s dotted line and go legit. On the Golden State’s northernmost border, one lawmaker is pushing Governor Jerry Brown to declare an official state of emergency to fight back against black market grows.
According to Sacramento’s local CBS affiliate, Republican State Senator Ted Gaines has officially submitted a written request to the Governor's office requesting assistance from California’s National Guard and Fish and Wildlife Department to help Siskiyou County’s four sheriff deputies cover the area’s 6,000 miles of land.
Gaines told CBS13 that he recently took a helicopter ride through the heavily forested area and was shocked by what he saw.
“I saw over 100 illegal marijuana grows from the air,” Gaines said. “Not just a couple of plants, we’re talking about close to 100 plants in each grow.”
In addition to skirting local regulations, Gaines says the black market cultivators are stealing water for irrigation and causing irreparable environmental damage to state land.
“They all have a little above ground swimming pool where they illegally get the water, and they dump it into the pool for their irrigation,” Gaines said.
Those points, and some more sinister criminal finger pointing, were included in the Senator’s recent letter to Governor Brown requesting the state emergency.
“All laws regarding legal marijuana cultivation are being ignored by individual criminals, crime syndicates and drug cartels, who are treating the public and private lands of Siskiyou County as their own illicit greenhouse, harming citizens, law enforcement personnel, and the agricultural community.”
Gaines said the problem is so bad that two growers were recently arrested for offering the local sheriff a $1 million bribe to ignore the grow ops.
“It’s a real problem,” Gaines said. “We need to get a handle on it. I’m worried about the environmental impact; I’m worried about my constituents.”
Governor Brown has not yet responded to Gaines request for additional help and a state of emergency.