Even though California decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2018, the amount of illegal marijuana growing operations are on the rise – from 150 marijuana cultivations in 2020 to 500 in 2021. Earlier this year, Southern California authorities seized over 16 tons of marijuana in the High Desert area. The seizure resulted in 22 felony arrests, 109 misdemeanor arrests, and 19 arrests of water theft. The vastness of this operation led officials to believe international cartels were behind them.
The Growing Marijuana Problem in California
With marijuana growing operations in California being organized and funded by international cartels, officials are worried this will increase human trafficking, pollution, water theft, and threats to the safety and security of the nearby communities. In fact, across the country, law enforcement officials have found that the majority of individuals arrested at illegal grows are actually victims of human trafficking who have been forced into servitude.
So, why California?Officials believe Southern California is the hot zone for illegal marijuana grows because of its proximity to the southern border. Interstate highways also allow for easy and concealed access to rural communities. Additionally, because California decriminalized marijuana use, there are few consequences for individuals arrested for illegally growing marijuana – most see fines of $500 or less. This imbalance has led to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency joining forces with local and law enforcement to try and shut down larger grows like the one mentioned above.
The new partnership between federal officials and state law enforcement underlines the necessity of working with a skilled criminal attorney if you or a loved one are charged with state or federal drug-related offenses. At Sigal Law Group, we have years of experience creating strategic defenses for our clients and ensuring the courts uphold your due process. For assistance today, call (818) 325-0570 to schedule a free consultation.