|Homegrown Lemon Kush|
Stretching from the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, all the way to the western Arizona border, Riverside County in California’s Inland Empire has been rapidly rising in the ranks of the most populous counties in the entire nation.
In an almost synchronized timeline of events, the population explosion in Riverside County coincided with the massive growth of medical marijuana demand in the region, and local growers soon found the Mediterranean-esque climate to be more than adequate for growing their own crops. However, a newly proposed county-wide ordinance would put an outright ban on outdoor cultivation of cannabis.
Technically, the county already bans residents form growing weed outdoors, but the established law lacks teeth. Currently, complaints about illegal grow ops are pushed to the Code Enforcement division, rather than the police department.
The county’s Code Enforcement officials readily admit that they lack the funding and staffing to properly regulate the matter, and as a result they say that over 200 new outdoor marijuana grows have appeared this year alone.
Once just a vast swath of arid high desert lands and long, straight freeways, sprawling communities have sprung up along Interstate 15 in the past two decades, as frustrated Los Angeles and San Diego residents have been pushed further and further from the city for affordable housing.
Along with the rush of new residents came the increase in grow ops. High chain link fences lined with dark tarps now pockmark the backyards of residential tract home neighborhoods, doing little to hide from the neighbors, or the law. In fact, most of the sites post medical marijuana growing permits right in the crop, facing skyward for the patrolling police helicopters to see.
Local officials have already banned storefront dispensaries and marijuana deliveries in the county, and the latest attack on cultivation has local cannabis advocates up in arms. A dedication plaque at the Mead Valley Library was vandalized to read “Weed Valley Library”.
County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries showed his extreme bias against cannabis when he quipped that a local recruiting drive for new City Council members had to be preempted by a search of each backyard before a knock on the front door, to ensure that they “weren’t inviting the drug cartel” to run for City Council.
Get it? Only drug cartels grow weed! Asshole.
Sure enough, the new cultivation ban is the brainchild of Jeffries, who promises that the intent of the law will not be to go after “the mom-and-pop or the grandma who needs a couple plants to deal with her glaucoma or something like that.”
Great, so we’ll just leave it up to the paramilitary-armed thugs kicking down the doors of each raid to determine each and every patient’s true medical needs. What could go wrong?
Jeffries proposed ordinance would clarify the county’s ban on pot growing, and would put in place an escalating schedule of fines based on plant count.
The flawed proposal could be brought up in next week’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting, and if approved there, would be put before voters at a future date yet to be determined.
Until new regulations are put in place, residents in places like Mead Valley are getting strange knocks on the door. Not Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, and not vacuum cleaner or encyclopedia salesmen. Instead in the highly impoverished region of Riverside County, homeowners are being solicited for their backyards.
Growers are literally going door to door, offering homeowners thousands of dollars for nothing more than a key to the side gate and permission to fill the yard with high grade pot plants.
Again, Jeffries warns Riverside residents that these grow ops are being run by violent and dangerous Mexican drug cartels. “The people who are coming in in the evenings and managing those facilities are sometimes armed, sometimes with illegal weapons,” says jeffries. “And it’s really scaring the hell out of folks out there.”
Meanwhile, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is attempting to tamp down the scare tactics coming from fear mongering politicians like Jeffries, saying that they have “not received specific reports regarding drug cartels/organized crime outfits being behind marijuana grows in Riverside County.”
Critics of the proposed ordinance point to strong local support for medical marijuana, along with the fact that growing pot outdoors is much more environmentally sustainable than power-sapping indoor grow ops.
Banning dispensaries first, and now home cultivation, only makes it more difficult for the “legitimate” patients that Jeffries speaks about to get their medication.