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Author: Subject: California's New Pot Patch

Universal Peach





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  posted on 7/21/2010 at 11:35 AM
How much is enforcement costing an already bankrupt state?

California's New Pot Patch
Los Angeles County Blossoms as a Rival to North's Renowned 'Emerald Triangle'

By TAMARA AUDI

Northern California's so-called Emerald Triangle, famous for marijuana farms that supply much of the U.S. with high-quality pot, is facing competition from hundreds of miles away—in Los Angeles County.

As this year's marijuana-harvest season gets under way, law-enforcement officials are focused on the Southern California county, which by some measures has bloomed into the nation's most productive pot garden.

Law-enforcement agents seized more than 734,000 pot plants in Los Angeles County last year—the highest number of seizures in the country for that year. The haul surpassed those even in California's most-prolific northern counties, with the biggest 2009 seizure coming from Shasta County at 629,000 plants.

Northern California as a whole still grows most of the nation's pot, according to law-enforcement officials. But the drastic spike in Los Angeles County pot-plant seizures has law-enforcement officials trying to figure out what is behind the increase, and whether it represents a real shift in the lucrative pot trade.

"Is it that there are more grows out there, or are we getting better at finding them?" said Federal Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Sarah Pullen of the pot-growing camps being set up in Southern California. "Was last year an anomaly, or is there something different going on in the state?"

Ms. Pullen said it is still too early in this season to tell. And law-enforcement officials say that pot-plant seizures throughout the country are on the rise—with California, as it has in the past, leading the way.

Law-enforcement officials have seized 103,000 plants in Los Angeles County since April, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which takes the lead in pot seizures in the county.

Recent seizures in Los Angeles County have astonished even veterans of the state's long drug war. On a single Friday in late June, law-enforcement agents destroyed 19,000 plants with a street value of $39 million, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said.

Most of the county's marijuana plants are grown in the Angeles National Forest, a rugged wilderness stretching over 650,000 acres east of Los Angeles, according to U.S. Forest Service records. Forest Service and Sheriff's Department officials recently warned hikers about the presence of pot farms in the forest—along with the armed guards and booby traps that come with them.

Not even last year's Station Fire—the forest's largest inferno ever recorded—slowed harvesting. "We thought the fire would really curtail this and it didn't," said Ralph Ornelas, captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's narcotics bureau. "We came up with seizures at the end of the season that really surprised us. It's amazing. This tells you the abundance of outdoor grows that are here."

Some in law enforcement believe that tightened security along the Mexican border has curtailed drug smuggling and forced growers to cultivate their pot closer to their U.S. market.

Another possible reason: Angeles National Forest has become attractive to Mexican drug cartels because it offers remote open space, a perfect growing climate, little competition and a base close to home.

Law enforcement is working to get a better handle on the ownership of the Southern California crops. There is some recent evidence that Mexican cartels are running some of the U.S. farms, according to officials, but a lot of the plantations are operated by American gangs, some with ties to the cartels.

Much of the recent violence in Mexico is among cartels battling for planting territory, said Michelle Gregory, a special agent with the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. "They realized they can come to California and have a lot of open space, and they don't have to fight with anybody for it," she said.

While most of California's pot is exported to other states, the black market here could change drastically if residents vote in favor of a November state ballot measure to legalize marijuana. The measure would allow residents to cultivate and posses small amounts of pot. A recent analysis by The Rand Corporation think tank said the price of pot could drop to as low as $38 an ounce, compared to $375 per ounce today, if it passes.

Meanwhile, drug agents continue to hunt for pot plantations. The work involves hours of hiking to remote sites in the forest. When agents spot a growing area, they often find full camp sites, complete with irrigation and acres of marijuana fields and armed guards.

Most of the time, the guards flee, and agents destroy the plants. But a disturbing trend has emerged this year: "We're finding they're more apt to stick around and defend, than take off and run," Ms. Gregory said.

 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/22/2010 at 10:45 AM
Chain, I'm beginning to think the referendum in November may not pass. There is a lot of talk here about how the thing was written by a man making millions off medical marijuana, and the whole thing seems set up to let people like him control weed in this state. Anything over an ounce would still be a crime, unless a locality raised that limit. Anyone wanting to sell it will have to be registered, etc. Pretty much all the growers and dealers I know are against it, as they like things fine the way they are now. You can get a medical card now and grow your own with no problems. That's probably what most people will continue to do if this passes. All the growers I know would still be illegal under the new law. Those people who think big money will run them out of business are seeing it begin to happen right now. Two city councilmen in Oakland are trying to set it up so there are four growers who can apply for a city license to sell pot to the dispensaries. If passed, they will be the only ones the clubs can buy from. Big money taking over already.

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 7/22/2010 at 01:19 PM
quote:
Chain, I'm beginning to think the referendum in November may not pass. There is a lot of talk here about how the thing was written by a man making millions off medical marijuana, and the whole thing seems set up to let people like him control weed in this state. Anything over an ounce would still be a crime, unless a locality raised that limit. Anyone wanting to sell it will have to be registered, etc. Pretty much all the growers and dealers I know are against it, as they like things fine the way they are now. You can get a medical card now and grow your own with no problems. That's probably what most people will continue to do if this passes. All the growers I know would still be illegal under the new law. Those people who think big money will run them out of business are seeing it begin to happen right now. Two city councilmen in Oakland are trying to set it up so there are four growers who can apply for a city license to sell pot to the dispensaries. If passed, they will be the only ones the clubs can buy from. Big money taking over already.


Well this is completely depressing news, Santa......Who the hell allowed this one guy to write a ballot initiative. I certainly can understand how the current "underground" growers feel threatened as their market is probably about to dry up. I recall reading an article recently (which I think I posted in this forum) in which many growers were already finding it very difficult to unload their product. Some guy had over 800 lbs. he couldn't get rid of.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/22/2010 at 01:57 PM
Richard Lee is the one who put the money up to get the signatures to get this on the ballot. He owns the Oaksterdam University in Oakland. There have been other attempts to legalize it here that would have been much better bills, but which didn't pass. This one may pass, but I don't know any growers or dealers who are going to vote for it.

I think the reason that some might not be able to sell their product is that so many people are growing now. Anyone can get a medical card. Weed is as plentiful up here where I live as oranges in Florida. When I first moved here, and didn't know many people, I was paying $350 for an ounce. The last few I got I paid $200 each for. I haven't bought any in a long time, as I've been trading my pipes for it. I've gotten as much as 8 grams for a pipe I sell for $25. I expect the price to really drop if the initiative passes in November. It may well pass. I just happen to know a lot of people who are against it for financial reasons.

I have 11 plants in my garden now, one about 9 feet tall. I'll post pictures after they fill back out from the recent pruning I gave them.

[Edited on 7/22/2010 by SantaCruzBluz]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/23/2010 at 01:59 AM
quote:
Anyone can get a medical card.


Your name is called as you wait in a tiny room with about 6-7 desperate looking characters. You stand, aware that all in the room are casting eyes on you as if to say... "Lucky"...You are led down a hall to a room with with a desk, chair and Computer monitor tucked against the far wall. The receptionist pulls out the chair and announces that the Doctor will be with you shortly. She turns and leaves the room and at about that time you see the Doc pulling out his own chair, sitting and swinging into your full view on the monitor. "How are you today George"?..he inquires. You look at the little camera just above the monitor and reply "Good...and yourself"?..."Good, good" comes his swift reply... he continues.."Why don't you tell me a little about your pain" he says...(Having visited the California Medical marijuana web site I had read about the "top ten" valid reasons for needing Medicinal Pot)..."Chronic back pain" I said..."I'm tired of going to the Chiropractor"...."I see" he said.."Tell me more"...So I lean back in my chair, look into the camera and declare, "A new form of therapy for me...the pain and discomfort is daily...I hope this works"...The doctor shuffled some papers, looked up at the camera and said "you're approved"...."Your documents will be ready for you to sign momentarily"..."Thanks" I said as I stood and made for the receptionist's office...15 minutes later, I was standing in the dispensary next door.."And that one?....can I smell that one"?...

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 8/2/2010 at 10:49 AM
quote:
quote:
Anyone can get a medical card.


Your name is called as you wait in a tiny room with about 6-7 desperate looking characters. You stand, aware that all in the room are casting eyes on you as if to say... "Lucky"...You are led down a hall to a room with with a desk, chair and Computer monitor tucked against the far wall. The receptionist pulls out the chair and announces that the Doctor will be with you shortly. She turns and leaves the room and at about that time you see the Doc pulling out his own chair, sitting and swinging into your full view on the monitor. "How are you today George"?..he inquires. You look at the little camera just above the monitor and reply "Good...and yourself"?..."Good, good" comes his swift reply... he continues.."Why don't you tell me a little about your pain" he says...(Having visited the California Medical marijuana web site I had read about the "top ten" valid reasons for needing Medicinal Pot)..."Chronic back pain" I said..."I'm tired of going to the Chiropractor"...."I see" he said.."Tell me more"...So I lean back in my chair, look into the camera and declare, "A new form of therapy for me...the pain and discomfort is daily...I hope this works"...The doctor shuffled some papers, looked up at the camera and said "you're approved"...."Your documents will be ready for you to sign momentarily"..."Thanks" I said as I stood and made for the receptionist's office...15 minutes later, I was standing in the dispensary next door.."And that one?....can I smell that one"?...


Thanks for a description of the process. What's the cost for the physician's referral? Same as any other office visit? Does your insurance cover the office visit fee? How about the cost of the product? Is it covered by insurance? Just curious. Thanks in advance for the info.

 

Peach Pro



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  posted on 8/2/2010 at 11:10 AM
Can Oaksterdam weed magnate Richard Lee push legalization over the top?

http://www.northcoastjournal.com/news/2010/07/29/general-lee/

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 8/2/2010 at 12:38 PM
Thanks for posting this article, IF. Mr. Lee is certainly an enterprising individual. And he's clearly politically savvy in regard to the "machine" he's put in place in order to navigate the political waters of California. His comment about the patch work laws this endeavor could create was rather interesting as well. It seems marijuana prohibition may end exactly the same way alcohol prohibition did. It'd be nice if there were eventually to follow an amendment to the constitution that would end the federal insanity as well. But that's probably too much to wish for.
 
 


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