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|“Here, I’ll hold the plants and you hump my leg. How much is it we’re making again? Couple hundred bucks an hour?”|
CAMP Cancelled After Three Decades; Replacement Program Is Smaller
The good news is that the moronic Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), which over a period of almost three decades burned through millions of dollars of taxpayer money while terrorizing citizens across California with military-style raids, was cancelled this year due to state budget cuts. The bad news is that it’s been replaced with another, renamed program — but at least this one is scaled down, reports Dave Rice at the San Diego Reader.
The new Cannabis Eradication and Reclamation Team (CERT) will operate with only three helicopter teams instead of CAMP’s five teams. The crews, now dividing the state into three regions instead of five, are in charge of spotting illicit grow operations and then transporting gung-ho Rambo-esque teams of heavily tricked-out drug agents to remote locations, then destroying the plants offsite.
“The cost for a helicopter, which airlifts about 5,000 pounds of plants, garbage and equipment from these sites, is about eight to ten thousand dollars an hour,” said Patrick Foi, a warden with the California Department of Fish and Game, according to Michelle Fitzsimmons in the Gilroy Patch.
“All together, it’s just a gigantic mess,” Foi said.
In its 28th and final year of operation last year, CAMP claimed it removed about two million plants — most from federal and state property — down from four million in 2010. With the budget cuts, this year’s take is expected to be further reduced.
|Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman: “I don’t expecet our numbers this year to be as high as last year”|
“I don’t expect our numbers this year to be as high as last year, however, we never start the year by saying we’re going to get more,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, reports Julie Johnson at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “We are going after the larger grows that are most destructive.”
Sadly, the scaling back of California’s state-funded marijuana cultivation eradication program amounts, in large part, to a handoff of enforcement responsibility from the state to the federal government. It could be seen as acknowledging a reality that already existed, since federal money had already been funding about 95 percent of the CAMP program through grants in recent years, according to the San Diego Reader.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Forest Service will take lead roles, taking over from state officials in administration of the effort to eliminate illegal pot farms in California.
The program will be “leaner and meaner,” with fewer full-time agents and reduced helicopter hours, according to John Sullivan, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA’s San Francisco field division.
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“It’s going to be logistically tougher,” Sullivan said. “We’ll basically do what we can do.”
Fewer days and fewer helicopter hours is effectively “reducing our ability to do enforcement,” whined Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas.
A big change this year is that CERT teams, unlike CAMP teams, will for the first time put supposedly put a priority on cleaning up the sites.
Before, most raids focused on destroying the plants, and agents rarely cleaned up pesticides and other refuse, according to Tommy LaNier, director of the National Marijuana Initiative, a federal anti-pot program funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
“That’s a big part of this new program,” LaNier claimed. “Removing trash, removing fertilizers, black pipes, all to disrupt infrastructure of these large grows.”
With a typical illegal marijuana farm costing $30,000 to $40,000 to set up and operate, including camping supplies, irrigation equipment and ongoing costs such as labor and food, according to LaNier, it impacts the ability of illicit farmers to return.
“When you remove that, you’re taking a big hit on their ability to come back,” LaNier said.
CAMP, which began in 1983, had participation from every county in the state except San Francisco County. In 2011, CAMP eradicated about two million marijuana plants statewide, with 63 percent taken from state, federal and county properties.
The program cost about $1.9 million in 2011, according to the California Department of Justice. The numbers were down from 2010, when more than four million plants were eradicated at a cost of $2.25 million.
In the final analysis, perhaps the most remarkable thing about CAMP is that millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted over a 28-year period for a program that produced no demonstrable results, if the intent was to impact the availability of marijuana in California — yet the program continued to be funded for almost three decades.
How many more years of foolish and wasteful spending will continue under its successor, CERT?
Maybe forever… Or at least until you as American citizens get fed up enough to do something about it.