Fri, Sep 04, 2009 4:41 pm
Every year since 1983, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) has engaged in a quixotic quest to “eradicate marijuana” in California. And every single year — all 26 of them — it has failed miserably as marijuana became more and more available.
The waste, arrogance and abuse associated with the program — which has unfortunately become the largest law enforcement task force in the United States, with more than 100 agencies participating — have become legendary. Ordinary families have been terrorized by paramilitary units, peaceful homeowners have been buzzed by low-flying helicopters, and community relations between citizens and law enforcement have suffered almost everywhere CAMP has laid its heavy hand.
Of course all this is done at taxpayer expense, to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars. Good thing the state treasury’s in good shape, flush with all that extra cash. Oh, wait…
And now that it’s harvest time again, CAMP’s expensive “eradication” efforts are once again in high gear, “despite a complete lack of evidence that they accomplish anything and considerable evidence that they make problems associated with marijuana cultivation worse,” communications director Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) told SF Weekly.
During its second week of operations, CAMP seized (they say “eradicated”) 74,100 marijuana plants in Humboldt County alone. Personnel from CAMP, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Forest Service participated in the raids, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.
So far in 2009, CAMP teams statewide say they’ve seized more than 3 million plants, with continuing operations planned throughout the summer.
Other than spectacularly failing to actually “eradicate” marijuana, Mirken maintains CAMP makes problems associated with marijuana cultivation worse. “As the number of plants seized skyrocketed in 2002, a key shift occurred,” Mirken said. “Where once the majority were seized from private land, in recent years the overwhelming majority of seizures have been on public lands — those very national forests the ‘eradicators’ claim to want to protect.”
“‘Eradication’ campaigns appear to have literally driven the growers into the hills,” Mirken said. By last year, 70 percent of plants seized were on public lands.
Two years ago, MPP challenged California Attorney General Jerry Brown — who oversees CAMP — to provide evidence, any evidence, that the program reduces marijuana availability, cultivation in dangerous or environmentally sensitive areas, availability of marijuana to young people, or involvement in criminal gangs in marijuana production and distribution.
He did not respond.