SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Law enforcement efforts to "eradicate" outdoor marijuana growing operations currently underway in California fail to make any impact on the availability or price of marijuana in the state, officials at the Marijuana Policy Project charged today.
The annual Campaign Against Marijuana Growing, or CAMP, has produced increasingly gaudy results in terms of numbers of plants destroyed by law enforcement each summer – for example, police recently reported that they had seized $1.26 billion worth of marijuana from illegal farms in Fresno County. But critics argue that the sheer volume of marijuana illegally grown, often in public parks, makes it impossible to identify and destroy enough marijuana to reduce the available supply or hinder drug cartels' profits in any way.
"Law enforcement officers point to a 2,000 percent increase in plants seized in the past decade and hold that as a sign of success," said Aaron Smith, MPP's California policy director. "But these efforts have had no effect on the widespread prevalence of marijuana in our society. Just like the days of alcohol Prohibition, we have ceded control of a popular product to criminals – making them rich in the process."
Although eradication programs rarely receive much public scrutiny, the Department of Justice acknowledged in its 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment that such operations do little more than drive growers to indoor sites, often in residential neighborhoods.
"At a time when California is facing drastic budget cuts, it's beyond irresponsible to continue this costly and ineffective policy," Smith said. "The only way to get these illegal grows out of our parks and neighborhoods is by ending marijuana prohibition and regulating the drug's production. After all, you don't see wine producers sneaking into forests and setting up covert vineyards."
With more than 27,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" ?>