Feds Refresh California Marijuana Strategy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An alarming increase in the use of an extremely toxic and banned pesticide in illegal marijuana farms hidden on public property in California is leading U.S. and state officials to team up on an issue that recently divided them: pot.

They announced Tuesday that they will use $2.5 million in federal money to target illegal grows even as they remain at odds over the medication and other issues. Federal law prohibits marijuana, but U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said he will prioritize prohibited marijuana rather than going after the world’s biggest legal recreational marijuana market, a decision U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has left to the discretion of top federal prosecutors.

“The reality of the situation is that there is a lot of black market marijuana in California that we could use all of our resources going after only the black market and never get there,” Scott said.

“So for right now, our priorities are to focus on what have been historically our national law enforcement priorities: interstate trafficking, organized crime and the national public lands,” said Scott, whom President Donald Trump appointed last year as U.S. lawyer of inland California, from Bakersfield to the Oregon border.

Most of illegally grown California pot is destined for Midwestern and Eastern countries where it’s more profitable. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and others called the prohibited develops as California’s new Gold Rush, bringing both riches and environmental devastation.

“You’ve got to make it crime doesn’t pay,” Becerra said.

“You have got to make it so crime does not pay.”

Xavier Becerra of California

The illegal develops, where the highly toxic pesticide Carbofuran is prevalent, pose an increasing threat to water, wildlife and finally individuals, officials said. Researcher Mourad Gabriel told The Associated Press that he and his colleagues discovered that the chemical at 72 percent of grow websites last year, up from 15 percent in 2012.

About 60 percent of California’s water supply flows through national forests, and researchers found that 40 percent of water samples downstream from illegal develops are contaminated.

Gabriel’s research found that traces of the pesticide are now showing up in pot, though he didn’t try to measure how much was in each sample or its effects on people. Such dangers have been an issue in unregulated drug markets, something California’s new legal cannabis market plans to change.
Carbofuran, which may ’t lawfully be utilised in the United States, is intended to be heavily diluted and used as an insecticide. But it is so strong that a quarter of a teaspoon of concentrate can kill a 300-pound (136-kilogram) bear, said Gabriel, executive director and senior ecologist in Integral Ecology Research Center and one of the few researchers studying the environmental impact of illicit grow sites

It’s also being used on marijuana plants in just diluted form. Carbofuran is being smuggled in from Mexico by drug cartels and laborers hired to clear forestland and replant it with illegal marijuana, Scott said.

Laborers, who must take the plants, fertilizer, irrigation hose and camping supplies into faraway sites, tell Gabriel that the remoteness is one reason why the highly toxic pesticide is so popular.

“What they are saying to us is that this is extremely effective — it takes a tiny amount to kill a deer or a bear — we don’t need to bring a lot of it to last a year,” Gabriel said.

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