In Rural Communities Flush With Pot, There’s a Deep Divide

More permissive pot policies are supposed to bring marijuana growers out of the shadows and under the watchful, regulated eyes of government. But in rural counties across the state, illegal pot farms continue to flourish. The situation has created a backlash in some circles before California’s experiment with legal pot can even fully begin.

Nearly 30,000 illegal plants have been cut down this year in Calaveras which legalized medical cannabis cultivation in 2016.

"There are just so many of them," Sheriff Rick DiBasilio said of the illegal farms. "It's never-ending."

He estimates there are about 1,000 illegal farms in operation right now.

The same is true in the state’s Emerald Triangle, where pot has long been ubiquitous. Mendocino County’s sheriff has been sounding the alarm about the illegal activity associated with pot in his county.

In Stanislaus, the situation has officially been declared an emergency. A group of growers even tried to bribe Sheriff Jon Lopey.

"That's all you need to know about the type of money involved," Lopey said. "This isn't confined to the state. There's a big market outside of California they are supplying."

Some residents are now taking on the officials who implemented pot-friendly policies. Calaveras voters already booted four of the five supervisors who voted to legalize marijuana. And the new majority is poised to try to turn back the hands of time.

Not everyone wants to do so, however. As the Associated Press notes, the issue has divided the town. With full implementation of Proposition 64 just a month away, those divisions could become even more entrenched -- and widespread.


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