Marijuana Grow Outside Santa Cruz -- Could Have Been Dangerous, But Why?

NBC11 in the Bay Area reported that thousands of marijuana plants, valued at $40 million according to authorities had been spotted near Mount Umunhum, in a remote part of the Santa Cruz mountains in south Santa Clara County. They needed helicopters to remove the 10,000-15,000 plants estimated to be there. There's a cool slideshow on the site. My first reaction was, is it just ditchweed? An old report by the Vermont State Auditor found that almost all the "marijuana" destroyed by the government is mere ditchweed -- wild hemp, grows in lots of places, the government subsidized it during WWII. Then I thought, well, Santa Cruz? I'll give the government the benefit of the doubt that this time it's really marijuana. :) Further down in the story police explained that these plants -- which by themselves are unable to move from place to place, being plants -- bring danger with them:
"These operations can be dangerous," Palanov said. "Last year down this canyon a couple miles away from here, a fish and game warden was shot during a marijuana raid." The officer survived. Agents shot and killed the gunman, while another suspect escaped, Garza reported. "Our deputies, and fish and game and everybody else that's involved are hiking into area where the growers have orders to protect their groves at all costs. They have weapons," Palanov said. "You have a lot of environmental damage -- the marijuana goes out on the street, which fuels other criminal activity."
But why is it dangerous? Is the danger intrinsic to the marijuana? No, it is because marijuana is illegal. With marijuana legalization, no one would want to shoot people over the legally grown crop -- even bad people wouldn't shoot people over it, because it would in no way be worth the risk of going to prison for homicide -- because the value just wouldn't be what it is now and one could go to the police for help if one's crop were threatened. The environmental damage -- assuming that's for real, which certainly seems possible -- could also be reduced if not eliminated through agricultural regulation and inspection. Save Mount Umunhum -- end prohibition! Click here to write to NBC11.
Location: 
Santa Cruz, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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