Since California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, growers of pot have, well, grown wise, evolving from a campaign that emphasized the cancer-afflicted grandma growing pot on her windowsill (way to legalize it) to the reality of large-scale operations in grow houses and on national parkland.
After billions of dollars worth of busts in National Forests, growers have headed down to California's Central Valley to sow and reap their buds amid the anonymity of other cash crops.
So says the Associated Press, which reports:
Instead of huge, isolated gardens, traffickers have turned to networks of smaller growing operations, investigators say.
Their smaller size keeps them off the radar of federal agents seeking bigger hauls, and local prosecutors are wary of pursuing cases against growers claiming the pot is for medical use, said longtime narcotics agent Brent Wood.
We recently told you about the case of a legitimate, farm-like pot-grower, Northstone Organics, which was approved by its home county (Mendocino), yet was apparently raided by the DEA.
The AP states that the number of plants seized at National Forest grows is nearly half of the 4.3 million eradicated last year: Meanwhile he number of grows found on the "valley floor" have more than tripled compared to last year.
Some growers reportedly sublease land from produce farmers.
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Because of their limited size and a claim to medical use, Wood said "We can't touch `em, and it's everywhere."
Maybe that's why the feds are cracking down. Last time we checked, they had the antidote to MC Hammer: They can touch this.
Perhaps the "Real California Milk" campaign will spread to other homegrown products such as California cannabis. That would make for an interesting logo.