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California’s governor vows crackdown on illegal pot farms

A sheriff’s deputy arrests a man for allegedly cultivating marijuana in unincorporated Calaveras County, California on Sept. 29, 2017.Noah Berger / AP file
The state is the top cannabis producer in the U.S., and while many want the move against illegal growers, some say Mexican cartels don’t play a big role.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed Tuesday to crack down on cartel-grown black market marijuana despite questions about the scope of influence Mexican drug rings are having on the nation’s top cannabis producing state.

Newsom said during his State of the State address that he’s pulling 360 of the state’s National Guard troops from President Donald Trump’s border security deployment, which the governor described as part of a “manufactured crisis.”

He is directing more than a third of these troops to help target illicit pot cultivators in Northern California.

The troops will be “redeploying up north to go after all these illegal cannabis farms, many of which are run by the cartels that are devastating our pristine forests and increasingly themselves becoming fire hazards,” Newsom said.

While many in California’s legal pot industry – recreational sales began in 2018 – have been clamoring for enforcement against rogue operators, some experts question any blaming of cartels for much of the state’s illicit pot output.

Sheriff's deputies seize marijuana from a growing operation in unincorporated Calaveras County, California on Sept. 29, 2017.
Sheriff’s deputies seize marijuana from a growing operation in unincorporated Calaveras County, California on Sept. 29, 2017.Noah Berger / AP file

“I don’t know about this old ‘cartels’ thing,” said Dale Gieringer, state director of the marijuana decriminalization group, California NORML. “Frankly we’ve seen very little at all about illegal activity in the way of growing in the wilderness the way we used to. Cartel involvement is a bugaboo they like to throw around.”

William Honsal, sheriff in the cannabis epicenter of Humboldt County, said he has seen evidence of cartel connections to “trespass grows,” which are operations set up on state or federal land, the amount of such activity seems to be down recently.

“We’re seeing a reduced amount of trespass grows on public land in the last few years,” he said. “We’ve had to actually turn away help because we don’t see the trespass grows the way we used to.”

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Dennis Romero on NBC News

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Published: February 12, 2019

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