Legal marijuana companies are cautiously welcoming California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that 150 National Guard troops will deploy to Northern California to “go after illegal cannabis farms,” but the news also is kindling fears in some industry circles of a renewed, government-led drug war.
Many legal marijuana companies have long argued that illicit operators pose a major threat to their bottom line – and a widespread law enforcement conundrum for the state at large.
However, some of California’s legal cannabis companies remain unclear about how the National Guard effort will proceed, and the state has yet to offer clear-cut answers.
- Parallels drawn to the decades-old Campaign Against Marijuana Planting program (CAMP) have some worried about a “drug war 2.0” because in years past, CAMP arguably victimized many of the same MJ farmers who are now legal and licensed.
- Cannabis companies also are looking for clarity from the state about how the deployment will be managed to ensure it doesn’t unintentionally interfere with legal marijuana businesses.
- It’s also unclear whether the deployment may lead to raids on some farms that may be out of compliance with state industry rules but are still transitioning and trying to become part of the legal market.
Memories of CAMP, in particular, are triggering alarms.“CAMP … sends shivers up my spine just hearing it,” said John Brower, a cannabis industry consultant in Trinity County, which comprises the Emerald Triangle along with Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
Scars left by CAMP
National Guard troops are already involved in at least two anti-narcotics efforts: CAMP, as well as the National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force (CDTF).
CAMP is a joint program involving 10 state and federal agencies, including the California National Guard. It’s separate from the CDTF.
While the order that Newsom signed last week bolstered Guard personnel for the CDTF, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal called the move a “carryover of the ‘CAMP’ program.”
The state attorney general’s office announced 52 arrests last October made via CAMP in connection with illegal marijuana grows across California.
Honsal’s comments tying the new National Guard effort to CAMP raised eyebrows in the legal Northern California MJ farming community.
Published: February 21, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News