The recreational use of marijuana, legalized by Proposition 64 in 2016, has not eliminated illegal marijuana grow sites in many rural areas throughout the state. The illicit marijuana market continues to thrive, financed by consumers seeking to avoid taxes imposed on sales at legal dispensaries. This issue is coming to light as a major issue in our rural backcountry areas of North and East counties as well as Southwest Riverside.
In our own region, huge illegal marijuana farms have been seized over the past few years. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reported that in 2 years it located 1,576 illegal grows, with 2.5 million plants. The human toll can be staggering, including murder. At a grow house east of Temecula, seven people were found shot to death in 2020. Sadly, child labor is sometimes used and the sites are often patrolled by armed guards, are frequently booby-trapped, and can contain other hazardous narcotics, including fentanyl. Rural San Diego County has been heavily impacted by illegal grow sites, and in San Bernardino County, the Sheriff’s office considers marijuana grows to be the biggest quality-of-life issue.
Property owners in rural areas need to be vigilant, especially if their property is not tended regularly. For a variety of public safety and environmental reasons, these illegal grows need to be stamped out now! If you suspect an illegal grow site, call the CalTip hotline at: 888-334-2258.
Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Valley Center, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.