CA’s use of National Guard to target illegal marijuana grows fuels queries, issues more than possible MJ business fallout


Legal marijuana providers are cautiously welcoming California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that 150 National Guard troops will deploy to Northern California to “go soon after illegal cannabis farms,” but the news also is kindling fears of a renewed, government-led drug war in some business circles.

A lot of legal marijuana providers have lengthy argued that illicit operators pose a significant threat to their bottom line – and a widespread law enforcement conundrum for the state at significant.

Even so, some of California’s legal cannabis providers stay unclear about how the National Guard work will proceed, and the state has but to present clear-reduce answers.

  • Parallels drawn to the decades-old Campaign Against Marijuana Planting program (CAMP) have some worried about a “drug war two.0” for the reason that in years previous CAMP arguably victimized numerous of the exact same MJ farmers who are now legal and licensed.
  • Cannabis providers also are hunting for clarity from the state about how the deployment will be managed to make sure it does not unintentionally interfere with legal marijuana enterprises.
  • It is also unclear whether or not the deployment may possibly lead to raids on some farms that may possibly be out of compliance with state business guidelines but are nevertheless transitioning and attempting to develop into element of the legal marketplace.

Memories of CAMP, in unique, are triggering alarms.

“CAMP … sends shivers up my spine just hearing it,” stated John Brower, a cannabis business consultant in Trinity County, which comprises the Emerald Triangle along with Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

Scars left by CAMP

National Guard troops are currently involved in at least two anti-narcotics efforts: CAMP, as effectively as the National Guard’s Counterdrug Job Force (CDTF).

CAMP is a joint system involving 10 state and federal agencies, such as the California National Guard. It is separate from the CDTF.

Although the order that Newsom signed final week bolstered Guard personnel for the CDTF, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal named the move a “carryover of the ‘CAMP’ System.”

The state lawyer general’s office announced 52 arrests last October created by way of CAMP in connection with illegal marijuana grows across California.

Honsal’s comments tying the new National Guard work to CAMP raised eyebrows in the legal Northern California MJ farming neighborhood.

Growers there support enforcement against violent gangs and “trespass grows” on public lands – but the reference carries mental scars from years of “abusive” raids by CAMP agents.

“Abusive” is a word a number of sources made use of to describe CAMP’s heyday from 1983 to the early 2000s.

“The abuses of the CAMP system have left some lengthy-lasting wounds in our neighborhood, and these wounds are not all healed,” Brower stated.

The mission is unclear

Asked to clarify the new CDTF mission’s scope, Newsom’s press workplace referred Marijuana Organization Every day to the initial news release, dated Feb. 11.

Under Newsom’s order, troops assigned to the CDTF would concentrate on combating “transnational crime organizations engaged in the illegal trafficking of firearms and narcotics.” The order also noted that National Guard members assisted in the seizure of more than 71,000 pounds of “illegal cannabis” in 2018.

The governor’s workplace didn’t right away answer stick to-up queries – such as whether or not the CDTF would possibly raid unlicensed grows on private lands or only illegal “trespass grows” on public lands.

The 150 new troops assigned to the new mission represent a roughly 75% boost in personnel for the CDTF, which at present has “200-plus” soldiers and airmen, according Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma, the California National Guard’s chief of media relations.

Concerning whether or not the CDTF would concentrate on illegal cannabis grows on each public and private lands, Shiroma wrote in an e-mail: “This element of the mission is nevertheless becoming sorted out, whether or not the new deployment will be focused on eradicating ‘trespass grows’ on public lands or if it will also possibly be raiding unlicensed grows on private lands.” (To study far more on what Shiroma shared with MJBizDaily about the mission, click right here.)

That has left business stakeholders asking yourself how the National Guard redeployment will unfold.

“I do not believe it is clear to most men and women,” stated Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Business Association. “There’s a lot of ambiguity. I do not have that details, either. That is absolutely a thing we will be reaching out to the governor’s workplace to inquire about.”

Ought to mom-and-pops aiming to join the legal marketplace be worried?

“We know that Gov. Newsom is supportive of the legal business,” Robinson stated. “So I’d be tough-pressed to think that they will be going soon after smaller growers up there, but I do not know. Our hope is that, if it is cartels and illegal trespass grows on public lands (targeted by the National Guard), that it in no way impacts the legal business.

“It would be good to have far more clarity on what their strategy is, but it could be that they haven’t articulated it very themselves.”

State Assembly Member Rob Bonta, an Oakland Democrat and marijuana business ally, also is unclear about the particulars of the redeployment.

But he doubts mom-and-pop farms attempting to join the legal marketplace have something to worry.

“I believe the particulars are nevertheless to come,” Bonta stated. “I absolutely hope it’s nothing at all like what occurred just before, with the CAMP enforcement and hardcore techniques. … That’s going to be for the (California) DOJ and the governor to choose, but realizing them, I do not believe that is their intent.”

California’s legal MJ business commonly agrees that “trespass grows” and the resulting environmental harm from the perpetrators’ use of damaging chemical compounds and expanding solutions should really not be tolerated. And there’s broader agreement, Robinson and other individuals stated, that unlicensed MJ enterprises that undercut the legal marketplace should really be targeted.

But legal farmers want assurances they’re not going to be reliving the failed drug war of yesteryear.

“We applaud Gov. Newsom’s allocating of sources to clean up these significant illegal grows on public lands, and we believe there requirements to be a clear line of separation, among safeguarding our watershed and invading private home,” Brower stated.

“If the National Guard is going to jump back in, they have to be managed in a way that is not stepping on the necks of these communities and citizens that have attempted to do points proper.”

Bonta added, “Certainly, no one desires to go backward. But we can not have no enforcement. And we’re attempting to build some carrots to move into the legal cannabis marketplace, but there are going to have to be some sticks, as well.”

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]


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