Who's Planting All That Pot in the Woods?

Long before the Drug Czar raised eyebrows by calling pot growers "violent criminal terrorists," police in California were blaming Mexican drug cartels for increased outdoor marijuana cultivation throughout the Golden State:
…these aren't flower-power farmers growing a few stalks hydroponically for personal toking. They're organized criminal gangs — some with deep roots in Mexico — and pot helps fund their violence. [Merced Sun-Star]
There's no limit to how far they'll go to promote this idea:
"Ninety-nine percent of the plants seized in the national forests," [Special Agent] Stokes said, "were planted by members of the Mexican National Cartel which has a huge network throughout California and the west.

"We've actually tracked the dollars back to Mexico," Stokes concluded. [Mountain News]

Something doesn’t add up here. For starters, the Mexican National Cartel doesn't seem to exist. And I don’t know how you'd track dollars from a marijuana crop that was eradicated and never sold.

And then there's this from the Merced Sun-Star:

…it's extremely rare and difficult for law enforcement to bust the drug lords responsible for funding the large growing operations. Often, even the growers themselves do not know who is funding an illegal cultivation.

So really, no one has any idea who's behind this. Arrests for outdoor cultivation are extremely rare, and yet local papers throughout California eagerly and repeatedly quote law-enforcement officials who blame the problem on Mexicans.

Appeals to racial prejudice and hysteria have always been a primary propaganda tool in the drug war. Exaggerating the involvement of violent drug cartels glamorizes the process of looking for pot in the woods and casts marijuana users as funders of violence. Such claims also facilitate the Drug Czar's desperate attempt to link marijuana prohibition to the more-popular war on terror.

Whether they're Mexican gangsters or white college kids, the people planting pot in the woods are a product of marijuana prohibition. They'll never stop growing pot in the woods because it's valuable and they never get in trouble for it. The only way to stop people from planting drugs in the forest is to let them do it somewhere else.

Location: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Actually, I did read about

Actually, I did read about one grow in California where they arrested a couple of Mexican nationals. Mexican farm workers... in California, of all places. How odd!

I wonder if they're running tomato cartels in Florida too. :)

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