Friday, September 09, 2011

Spike in violence follows increase in pot farming

Violence has become the norm in the forested mountains of California, where illegal marijuana crops have infiltrated isolated stands of Douglas firs and redwoods often only visited by scientists, foresters and hikers. The violence became pronounced after the recent shooting death of retired forester and Fort Bragg City Councilman Jere Melo by a known pot grower, reported Sam Quinones of the Los Angeles Times.

Quinones writes that growing accelerated after Georgia-Pacific Corp. closed the town's paper mill in 2002, taking hundreds of jobs with it. After California's medical marijuana law passed, a "Green Rush" was sparked, as growers were enticed from as far away as Mexico to move into the area's forests, which had already been a major pot-producing area because of its "isolation, good weather and laissez-faire culture," the Times reports.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb told Quinones that the "Green Rush" brought with it an increase in home invasion robberies and killings. This, Smallcomb said, started an "arms race as farmers bought weapons for protection against armed robbers." Quinones writes, "It feels at times as if war has broken out." (Read more)

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