NEWS
Cops Are Still Busting Weed Grows in the Middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic
From California to Oklahoma, law enforcement officers have continued to execute black market marijuana raids, indicating their prohibitionist priorities in the middle of a global pandemic.
Published on April 2, 2020

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Across the globe, police forces are adjusting to law and order under a viral pandemic. Court rooms are closed, judges and lawyers are largely holed up at home, and for police in large cities, beat cops have prioritized enforcing quarantine orders over petty crime stops. But when it comes to black market marijuana enforcement, tearing pot plants out of soil is apparently more important than protecting officers and suspects from spreading COVID-19. 

According to KFOR News, police in Harrah, Oklahoma raided a home grow site, confiscated 2,600 cannabis plants, and arrested at least two suspects in what cops are describing as a $1.3 million weed bust. In addition to the “multiple arrests” made at the grow site, local cops said that they are still pursuing additional suspects. Initial news reports made no mention of the ongoing global pandemic or dire conditions in the country’s crowded jails.

Similarly, California cops have executed their own share of black market cannabis raids, despite an increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases among Golden State law enforcement officers, as well as the recent passing of a Northern California detective from the deadly virus. 

Late last month, police officers in Saugus, California teamed up with local cannabis regulators to bust a cannabis oil lab that officials said contained $14 million worth of pot products and extraction equipment. In the press photos from that bust, police officers can be seen huddled just inches apart — far closer than the CDC’s social distancing guidelines suggest.

In another bust reported this past weekend, police in Riverside County continued their years-long assault on the underground cannabis business by arresting a 61-year-old man and confiscating 3,300 pot plants from two grow sites in Perris, CA. 

Outside of the hard-nosed enforcement still ongoing in California and Oklahoma, a number of police departments have recognized that a global pandemic means altering their operations. In some cities, cops have suspended low-level crime enforcement altogether in an effort to protect the health of officers and suspects. 

As COVID-19 continues to spread across states and communities in the US, prisoners have faced extreme exposure and inhumane conditions in jails across the country. Prison reform activists have pushed lawmakers to release thousands of inmates from unsafe conditions behind bars, but have only succeeded so far in rare instances

In yet another somber reality check from the convergence of America’s draconian War on Drugs and the COVID-19 crisis, the Bureau of Prisons is now reporting that the first two coronavirus deaths inside the federal prison system were both non-violent drug offenders. 

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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