Pubdate: Sun, 11 Jul 2010
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Record Searchlight
Author: Mike Meno


Few people on either side of the marijuana debate would disagree that 
outdoor illegal marijuana growing operations are enormous problems 
for the environment in California and states across the country. But 
when you phrase the debate by asking whether or not these illegal 
grows are "worth fighting," you miss the point entirely.

Officials have been "fighting" these outdoor grows for nearly 30 
years - since the creation of the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting 
(CAMP) in 1983 - and by every objective standard they have only made 
the problem worse, squandering millions of precious tax dollars and 
law enforcement resources in the process.

Year after year, officers report record-breaking marijuana seizures, 
and year after year criminals simply plant more. Officials think that 
they are helping the environment by removing marijuana from protected 
lands, but in reality, they're the reason those lands have become 
such attractive growing sites for drug cartels. Prior to 2002, the 
majority of CAMP seizures took place on private lands or indoors. As 
a result, the cartels changed their operations, choosing instead to 
plant marijuana largely in publicly preserved parklands, much to the 
detriment of California's environment and wildlife. As officers raid 
more of these sites, they force the cartels to encroach deeper and 
deeper into protected lands in order to avoid detection.

Such tactics, employed by Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko and 
countless others, do not "keep an out-of-control problem from growing 
even worse." They make it worse. After almost three decades, it's 
clear that another strategy is needed.

Let's stop wasting money and misappropriating manpower that only 
further encourages criminals to plant more marijuana, ruin the 
environment, and terrorize many of our communities. The only solution 
is to regulate the state's marijuana industry, rendering both the 
cartels and CAMP obsolete.

Mike Meno, Marijuana Policy Project, Washington, D.C.
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