We recently released an article about how marijuana arrests are still a significant thing in the state of California. Despite medical marijuana being legal since 1996 and a very lenient regulation system surrounding it, it is not stopping the state or the national forest service from spending money to crack down on marijuana grows. Humboldt County has long been known for the delectable cannabis grown on its land and still to this day it is estimated that over 25% of the local economy stems from marijuana.
USA Today recently rode along with a team hired to go air bound and locate illegal cannabis grows in the area, many of which are located deep inside unpopulated parts of national forests. Many of the illegal grows that they are targeting are causing detrimental harm to the environment through deforestation and dumping fertilizer rich waste into rivers. Unfortunately, the large amounts of unpopulated areas in Humboldt county is a mecca for cultivators.
Due to the very lax and highly unregulated “legal” market in the state, it is hard for law enforcement to truly be able to target illegal grows thus they are starting to utilize environmental laws rather than criminal laws surrounding cannabis to come down on these harmful operations. A lot of the operations that are found in violation of environmental laws are illegal operations with plans to distribute cannabis illegally out of state rather than legally to the California medical marijuana industry.
This is a downside to the fact that prohibition is still highly in effect across the nation. If the prohibition of cannabis were to be eradicated like it should be, people could simply grow at home and essentially over a short period of time it would force out the mass majority of the black market. If people did not have to grow in fear, chances are their methods of cultivation would leave little to no harmful footprint on the environment.
The majority of the grows being targeted in California currently are all about money and they have had a significant negative impact on small family farms that have been thriving in the area for decades which are passionate about the land as well as the art of cultivating high-quality medicine. The Humboldt County government would like to see any illegal growers currently in the area transition into the legal market, however, they know that not all of the cultivators on their land want to thus the continued efforts to flush them out before they do more damage to the environment.