Making a Big Deal of Destroying a Pot Farm

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Sep 2, 2001.

  1. By Dana Parsons
    Source: Los Angeles Times

    I first developed a dislike for marijuana after being assigned as a young reporter to an all-night police stakeout at some dude's farmhouse in Colorado. The point is, I'm a guy who needs his sleep and being awake at 3 a.m. to watch the bust go down wasn't my idea of time well spent.
    But because people are most likely to be home then--and least likely to expect cops to come bursting through the front door--that's when it was done. After the adrenaline rush from the raid subsided (about 30 seconds), we went out to the barn to inspect the haul.

    Being a twentysomething kid from Nebraska, I was shocked--shocked, I tell you--at what I saw: giant clumps of marijuana hanging from the ceiling. It was enough pot for three Grateful Dead concerts. It's too long ago to remember the size of the stash; maybe several hundred pounds and with an astronomical street value for those days. If memory serves, the cops said they'd made a huge dent in the local pot-smoking and distribution business.

    Twenty-some years later, my anti-marijuana stance has eased. It's not that I love the stuff; I just don't give it much thought. Accordingly, the Colorado marijuana raid now seems as old-fashioned as the feds raiding the gambling operation in "The Sting."

    But lo and behold, Orange County deputies were on the case last week, traipsing through the woods after being tipped off to the existence of a large marijuana farm in the Cleveland National Forest.

    I'll bet they were thrilled to get that assignment, knowing the public's fervent desire to have pot eradicated in our lifetime.

    The Times reported that more than a dozen deputies hiked three hours through "thick stands of beaver tail cactus and live oak" before coming upon the farm and its 2,000 marijuana plants.

    One can only imagine their exhilaration at the moment of discovery. Not the same as Indiana Jones hacking through the jungle before coming upon a lost treasure perhaps, but who can say?

    Anyway, the deputies hacked away with axes and chain saws and eventually leveled the place. The Sheriff's Department hasn't linked anyone to the pot operation, but a spokesman estimated its street value at $3 million.

    Nobody in law enforcement in this day and age is going to make a big deal out of taking $3 million worth of pot out of play--or, at least, they shouldn't. You know why: Not even the public cares that much anymore.

    Courts typically handle marijuana arrests with the same verve they apply to jaywalking. The maximum penalty for possessing less than an ounce of pot is a fine of $100.

    That apparently suits Californians of all stripes just fine.

    Voters in 1996 approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes--although local authorities haven't embraced it and the U.S. Supreme Court recently all but invalidated it.

    Last year, California voters spoke again with Proposition 36, which mandated treatment instead of incarceration for many drug offenders. It enjoyed almost across-the-board support.

    Last week's raid will have about as much effect on drug use as removing a handful of twenties from a multimillion-dollar counterfeiting operation.

    The fault lies not with the deputies. It's still illegal to grow marijuana, so I suppose they had to dash out there after being tipped off.

    But let's not kid ourselves and equate it with taking one more murderer or some cocaine kingpin off the streets.

    It is what it is: an exercise in futility. The deputies got a good workout, and that's about it.

    Believe it or not, that raid in the late '70s didn't kill the marijuana business in northern Colorado. It just cost us all a night's sleep.

    Nor will last week's raid stem reefer madness in Orange County.

    Which makes me wonder if, just like me on the moonlight raid way back when, the deputies last week privately wondered if their trek through the forest was time well spent.

    Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

    Readers may reach Parsons by calling at (714) 966-7821; by writing to him at The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626; or by e-mail to:

    Complete Title: Reefer Madness: Making a Big Deal of Destroying a Pot Farm

    Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
    Author: Dana Parsons
    Published: September 2, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Los Angeles Times

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