|Photo: NORML Blog|
|Florida has some of the nation’s harshest laws when it comes to growing marijuana — and it leads the nation in busts of grow houses.|
You’d think a place called the Sunshine State should be growing outdoors, but last year, more indoor marijuana grow houses were busted in Florida than in any other state, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Nationwide demand for high-potency marijuana has supposedly turned Florida into a top producer of hydroponic weed, reports Alexia Campbell at the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and hundreds of Floridians are turning their homes into grow houses.
Florida law enforcement agencies raided 818 grow houses in 2010, followed by California’s 719, according to the DEA, but not all agencies report their findings to the DEA.
The heart of Florida’s marijuana industry is in the south of the state, where police conduct numerous undercover stings in the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
Cops are complaining that growers are now learning “high-tech tricks” to hide their grow operations from investigators.
“The bad guys are getting smarter, and we’re not finding them all,” said Captain Joe Mendez, who oversees HIDTA’s marijuana task force in South Florida (can you imagine a more completely useless job?)
Tracking down individual growers has supposedly gotten harder, since many are now using closed circuit TV cameras to monitor their homes from afar. Police said they sometimes raid grow houses and find no one inside, according to Captain Mendez.
Large-scale growers have reportedly moved to rural Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade to evade nosy neighbors and police surveillance.
“They’ve gotten really sophisticated,” claimed Delray Beach Police Sergeant Phil Dorfman.
The supposed “huge profits” made from indoor marijuana grows create a never-ending battle for police, according to Captain Mendez, who claimed each pound has a street value of about $4,000 in South Florida.
Captain Mendez also made the ludicrous claim that “each plant produces about three pounds a year.” Remember, these are indoor plants we’re talking about, where the average is actually more like four to six ounces.
Law enforcement officials are pushing for — surprise, surprise! — “tougher penalties” for marijuana growers. Yeah, right! Those have just worked so well in the past, and with all that extra prison space and plenty of tax money available in Florida to pay for all this nonsense… Yeah.
But logic never stopped cops and politicians before, and in 2008 state legislators passed the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, a supremely stupid piece of legislation that lowered the previous level of 300 plants to qualify for a second-degree felony to just 24 plants.