The Los Angeles Times reports that Mexican traffickers are increasingly growing marijuana in California, using illegal immigrants to tend sizable plots. The crop is either planted on public park land or else on private land, without the knowledge of the rightful owner. Such schemes eliminate costly and risky smuggling as the product is already in the U.S. when harvested.
With the price of choice sinsemilla now estimated by authorities at a minimum of $4,000 per pound wholesale, guns and violence have intruded on what was once a peaceful, if covert agribusiness. Special Agent Tommy LaNier is quoted in the story, saying, "In the past, we had hippy types growing a couple of hundred plants. They were laid back and non-confrontational. This started to change about ten years ago. Now more than 90% of the groves we uncover are tended by Mexican nationals."
Chris Conrad, cofounder of Human Rights '95, an exhibit of drug war travesties and a long-time activist for the reform of marijuana and hemp laws, told The Week Online, "Our policies, and the politicians who are behind them have made sure that marijuana, a plant which can be grown nearly anywhere, is more valuable than gold. The American people are simply going to have to decide whether they want to devalue the crop and put it in the hands of legitimate business, operating under the law, or whether they want to leave it in the hands of organized criminals, who answer to no one and whose means of doing business is a threat to everyone around them."
"The false alternative, which is being increasingly pushed by our government, is an all-out military war within our own borders. This would have disastrous effects on public safety, civil rights, and domestic corruption. It will be incredibly expensive, it will have no achievable endpoint, and, I would add, it will not put a stop to the cultivation of marijuana in California or anywhere else."