Pot Growing in Big Sur

I’ve avoided addressing this subject, as it perpetuates the stereotype that has been in existence since the 1960’s — the pot-smoking, drug culture of Big Sur. If it was ever true in the past, it is a blatant stereotype today. And it reeks of the sensationalism that the local media seems so bent on. However, there are some points I think deserve addressing.

Yes, a rather large pot farm (10K plants reported) were found on the LPNF in Big Sur a few days ago. It was on public lands, and is clearly a large, commercial operation, not the small guerilla operations typically seen. MCSO’s estimation of the value, at least based on past experience, is grossly exaggerated. As a criminal defense attorney for many years, I have seen that it is quite typical for law enforcement to estimate value based on gross weight, including stems, root balls, and dirt. Allows them to make it seem more than it is. I am not minimizing 10K plants, that is a large number of plants, I am just minimizing the claimed value.

These commercial pot farm problems are not endemic to Big Sur, but to large tracts of public lands anywhere in California. Santa Barbara, and many other places, are reporting finding these types of pot farms on their public lands. As long as it is illegal to grow pot — and even though California has a compassionate use statute, the federal government refuses to recognize it — it is a lucrative business adventure. Frankly with a farm this size, I don’t think the declining economy is at fault. This one, based on reported size only, is a well-established commercial cartel, not part of the local economy.

I would like to give my personal thanks to Tom Hopkins, president of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance for volunteering his organization’s expertise and manpower to clean up this site. Kudos to VWA!

5 thoughts on “Pot Growing in Big Sur

  1. The VMA are good stewards. These cartels mean business and they don’t care who gets hurt and how much damage is done to the lands they pollute.
    From a firefighter’s point of view they are more than a nuisance, they present a danger to firefighter safety.
    We know now the 90,000 acre La Brea fire was caused by the pot farmers and because of that 2,000 firefighters were placed directly in harms way.
    Kate, it’s not even safe to walk in some of our forests anymore because of the danger of boobytraps and armed drug cartel employees protecting the crops.

    Let’s just legalize the junk and put these people out of business. The stuff grows quite well in the Central Valley and hemp makes some good rope…..

  2. Local rumor suggests that there were less than 1/2 what was reported, and it may not have been a commercial cartel involved. Local rumors are sometimes accurate, and sometimes wildly inaccurate. It is hard to know with something like this. Without a copy of the police report, it is hard to know what is true, and my experience with police reports is that they are rarely accurate, either.

    Regardless, the point I wish to make is that growing marijuana should be legitimized, taxed, and the huge profit base undercut. Mike is right. If it is legitimate, the profit motive is gone, and we can all walk more easily on our public lands. And of course, there are also the concerns about firefighter safety as well as the pollution of the forest with some of the chemicals used, and trash left behind.

  3. If our government leagalizes and distributes pot the same as alchol it could be a boon to gov tax base and income. However being an ex 60’s pot user knowing far to well the legenths some growers will go through to protect their crops, would love to see maryjayne dissapear entirely.

    As Mike pointed out, the drug cartels are the true criminals. If we don’t stamp them out, it is possible that the gang violence in our area will become more uncontrolable than it already is. We could easily end up like Mexico and the 1000’s of drug related deaths that are happening right now.

    I am not amazed at the size of that garden found recently on public property, nor the peril it could have brought via carelessness of the people thatr were tending it. They could care less if a fire results from one of their campfires.

    We can only hope some good came from this bust.

  4. Since the time I was only a four year old little boy, I have enjoyed the beauty, peace and connected feeling with a Life greater than me, simply by walking in the woods of California’s coastal mountains. I agree with what Kate and the others have said, and feel that the dangers, damage and all-around “bad juju” propagated by these big pot growing groups has no rightful place in our beautiful wild lands.

    If pot were legalized, farmers would grow it out in the open on flat land, and perhaps we could walk off the trails without being concerned about accidentally encountering highly armed, unfriendly illegal growers.

  5. I have mixed feelings regarding all of this as I had a sister that over-dosed. What do you guys propose for the young kids who will be able to get their hands on this stuff if it’s legalized??
    That’s my major concern as a parent.

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