POLICE Magazine

JUL 2019

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POLICEMAG.COM 35 counties. e region's moniker comes from its notoriety as the largest can- nabis-producing region in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 60% of the country's marijuana is grown here. ough Siskiyou County lies slightly outside the Emerald Triangle, its prob- lem with illegal grows rivals that of its neighbors. ough California legalized licensed marijuana grows, Lopey reports not all growers want to operate legally. ough the region has nearly 32,000 farmers, he reports only 3,500 or so are licensed. In his county, Lopey estimates there are 1,500 illegal grows. e problem, he says, is very real. In 2018, the year fol- lowing the legalization of recreational marijuana, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife seized twice as much marijuana and destroyed 700,000 more plants than the year before. To combat this phenomenon, the State of California is working with the National Guard, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other federal enforcement entities to wipe out illegal grows. But more of these efforts are needed, re- ports Lopey. "To curtail these illicit op- erations, we need a concerted effort that involves federal, state, and local author- ities," he says. Likewise, officers need protection as they enter these illegal grow sites, adds Lopey. If the marijuana is being grown inside, there exists the potential for ex- posure to toxic mold, high THC levels in the air and on surfaces, and poten- tially hazardous carbon dioxide levels. Law enforcers also may come in contact with extremely toxic pesticides, such as Carbofuran. Law enforcement officials must don personal protective gear, such as eye and face protection, chemical-re- sistant gloves and clothing, etc., before entering illegal grow sites. Funding is needed, adds Lopey, to ensure agencies have the gear they need. For licensed growers trying to do the right thing, the challenge becomes securing their crops from nefarious sources bent on stealing it. Carroll ex- plains that drug cartels that once grew crops in remote areas and harvested them annually are finding that robbing licensed growers of their products and profits is far less labor intensive. "When you head into some of these rural areas, these guys are outlaws. ey've been doing this for so long they don't want to do it any other way," Chown adds. is fact creates a need for heightened security around licensed grows, which can be challenging in rural areas, where electricity, internet access, and cellphone communication is limited. Some counties are mandating that despite the challenges, licensed oper- ations provide greater security than what the state requires. Yolo County, for instance, after experiencing a rash of burglaries at commercial grow sites, fi- nally told growers they had to do some- thing more. "When they asked, 'What can we do?' the sheriff told them, 'You need to be secure.' We don't want you to get robbed again because we don't want your product back on the black market. When someone robs a licensed busi- ness, they intend to take it to the black market," Chown stresses. Carroll advocates for greater security as well around licensed cannabis busi- nesses and grow sites. "We treat them like they're selling cigarettes or alcohol, but it's not the same thing," he says. He holds up Benicia, CA, as a model for its efforts. When this city of nearly 27,000 decided to allow commercial cannabis operations within city limits, local offi- cials partnered with the fire and police departments, the building department, and other stakeholders to develop a per- mitting process that ensures hardened security that exceeds what the State of California currently requires for these businesses. "People have the opportunity to sit down and get help from all of these de- partments and the city pays for them to have a security consultant develop their security plan," Carroll says. "In most cities, however, there is no oversight. ey just fill out an application that shows they meet the minimum of se- curity requirements, pay their fees, and they're licensed." When it comes to the legalization of marijuana, there are no easy answers, especially since the true impact of le- galization isn't yet known. But Lopey stands firm on one fact, "e feder- al government needs to maintain its stance on marijuana. We are not going to be able to curtail these problems if it does not." Ronnie Wendt is a freelance writer based in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She has been writing about law enforcement for two decades. DIAL IT IN HS503 R H O L O S U N . C O M HS403 R • Rotary Dial Brightness Control • Up to a 100,000 Hour Battery Life • Parallax Free & Unlimited Eye Relief • IP67 Certified Waterproof • 2 MOA DOT • Multi-Function Rotary Dial • Up to a 100,000 Hour Battery Life* • Parallax Free & Unlimited Eye Relief • IP67 Certified Waterproof • Multi-Reticle System™ (MRS): 65 MOA Circle & 2 MOA Dot; 2 MOA Dot *Dot Reticle Only N E W F O R 2 0 1 9

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