Pubdate: Thu, 23 Aug 2001
Source: Red Bluff Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Red Bluff Daily News
Author: Van William Washburn



Is the sheriff's current marijuana eradication policy effective? After 
reading the Daily News article about the first big marijuana raid of the 
season, a number of facts and quotes therein caused me to ponder that very 
question. Sheriff Parker's quote stating, "We're going to continue to be a 
little bit different than most counties, and we will look to arrest people 
and not just pull plants." makes me wonder if he has completely thought 
this strategy through. While this may have been an effective deterrent when 
most of those growing pot were bleary eyed hippies who were also citizens 
of this country, the problem lies in the efficacy of that policy which 
chased out most of the locals, caused the price of marijuana to skyrocket, 
and thereby caused the unintended consequence of those crops now being 
tended by armed Mexican Nationals placed there by large international drug 

The newspaper article states that last year a total of 28 people were 
arrested during those raids, more than any other county, according to 
Sheriff Parker. At first blush this looks like a pretty impressive 
statistic. The fly in the ointment however, is that almost all of those 
arrested were easily replaced peasants that were recruited by the cartels 
to do their scut work. The very notion that arresting these braceros would 
cause the drug kingpins to alter their course of action is tantamount to 
trying to get the president of General Motors to shift corporate policy by 
arresting the janitor at a Red Bluff auto dealership.

The time spent laying in wait to bust virtual nobodies is not only cost 
ineffective and highly dangerous to those law enforcement officers 
involved, but it also fritters away precious time that could be used in 
hitting the drug lords where it hurts most, i.e. locating and pulling their 
valuable plants in as many locations as possible. This could be 
accomplished in an expeditious manner as most of the gardens are on public 
land and no search warrant would be needed.

Despite pulling 40,000 plants last year, Sheriff Parker admitted that they 
got less than half of what was out there. If the plants destroyed were 
worth the $210 million that the sheriff claims, that means that an amount 
somewhat larger than that was garnered by the cartels last year in Tehama 
County. No wonder they're back this year. Indeed, according to Sheriff 
Parker: "We already know of at least six or seven other gardens that we'll 
be visiting." My advice? Stop trying to build a meaningless arrest record, 
and "visit" those gardens now.

Van William Washburn
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