One of this year’s largest busts went down in Santa Barbara throughout the past week, as authorities in Santa Barbara and the United States Forest Service seized and destroyed a massive to 27,000 plants of cannabis valued at $85 million. It’s of course illegal to grow on public, state-owned land (especially at this scale), that’s a whole lot of medicine to flush down the toilet.
While a large-scale grow on public grounds is uncalled for and a stain on the growing/legalization communities, it’s still no fun to see the government taking anti-cannabis action in California, Washington, and Colorado all in the same week. Two men were arrested, and the powers-at-be claim that the operation was surveyed and then plowed because weed grows are detrimental to Santa Barbara’s forests:
The marijuana, which was found at ten different illegal growing sites, was weeded out through efforts involving the United States Forest Service, California National Guard, and other government agencies as part of the statewide “Campaign Against Marijuana Planting,” or CAMP. Officials completed several investigations involving “aerial observation” and the input of “concerned community members” to locate and eradicate the marijuana planting sites, according to a statement released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office.
The marijuana extraction efforts first began last Thursday, when an investigation by the United States Forest Service led to the discovery of three different planting sites on property owned by the government agency itself. In that operation alone, over 2,500 plants were eradicated.
On Friday, the Santa Barbara Regional Narcotics Enforcement Team joined the Sheriff’s Office in removing over 5,700 plants from the Cuyama and Ventucopa area, leading to the arrest of 46 year-old Rivera.
This week, officials located 19,000 plants at six more grow sites located in the mountains north of the Davy Brown Campground and Sunset Valley Road, near Figueroa Mountain. Thirty four-year-old Garcia-Armas was arrested in connection with this operation.
County officials said in a press release that the illegal sites cause significant environmental harm, such as the introduction of toxic chemicals and trash as well as the harmful diversion of natural water supplies.
CAMP is a statewide program, spearheaded by the California Department of Justice, that removes marijuana grown on private and public lands. [Santa Barbara Independent]
While certainly a special–and grand–case, this bust is also emblematic of a bigger problem: the state of California and the government’s will to spend resources, time, and money destroying medicine. Yes, when public grows harm nature and forests like these allegedly did, then they clearly have a negative side affect.
But it’s hard to see how much worse off mother nature is from weed when we pollute it with gasoline, fast food, and other toxic chemicals on a regular basis–without any federal interference.