Being Raided: One Grower’s Perspective
Information about marijuana raids usually comes to news media via reports from law enforcement. Or occasionally from other outside groups. Rarely do we glimpse the world of a grower who is raided.
On Wednesday, we received video, photos and information from a man who says he is a marijuana grower whose plants were chopped down by law enforcement in the Weitchpec area earlier this week. (See here for earlier stories.) We have confirmed as far as possible that this is correct. We are going to present his point of view. We cannot verify some of his allegations and we caution that they are only allegations. We are not endorsing his point of view. We are simply presenting it.
Not long before the raid, the grower took these photos of his gardens. He did not give canopy size or plant numbers but did say that he had over 99 plants. He explained that his neighborhood consisted of both small and large marijuana grows. “Our neighborhood has become the convergence of the mom and pop homesteads and the lease-to-own mega grows,” he wrote. “It’s like a clash of two different ideals. One being the hit and run business model of absentee land owners and the other looking to strike a balance between economic survival and land stewardship.”
Yurok officials, however, characterized all those targeted as “greedy growers looking to make a quick buck.”
On Monday, law enforcement began serving search warrants in the Weitchpec area. According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, numerous agencies participated including, “Humboldt County Drug Task Force, Yurok Tribal Police Department, California National Guard, California Department of Fish and Wild Life Services, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), and the State of California, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP).”
The Sheriff’s Office reported on Wednesday that up to that point the agencies had eradicated “10,261 growing marijuana plants and seized 600 pounds of processed marijuana.” Some of the plants cut down this week belonged to the garden above.
Taken from the shadows, this video shows the convoy that arrived to cut down the grower’s garden.
Afterwards. the grower claimed, “No search warrant left on the scene. Should have stayed put, but was over 99 [plants.] Seems that once you hit 100 and beyond, 215 is out despite scripts….Fish and Wildlife walked lines on all properties and our “deeded” water rights apparently will not be respected. The properties were sold by a realtor who guarantee us the right to water. Now we face a $1000 a day fine if we pull water. Fair enough but we have built lives out here.”
After law enforcement had finished, the following photos of the garden were taken.
The raids continued Thursday, instead of officers arriving by ground vehicles, we received video of agents being airlifted in by helicopters to properties being raided in the Weitchpec area.
The former grower described this week’s raid as “the most intense and thorough eradication effort I’ve seen.”
He said law enforcement took a “[t]otally different approach” on Thursday. “Raids all taking place by air and no atvs…no vehicles. Just 12 deputies airlifted from garden to garden. Deputies were shuttled by helicopter two at a time…
Aided by a CalFire spotter plane... .” [Cal Fire denies that they had a spotter plane involved.]
The size of the gardens, he believed, didn’t matter. There was “[z]ero tolerance no matter the scale,” he said. “All gardens treated the same from 40 plants with a [doctor’s] note to several hundreds or thousands.”
The grower also claimed that these agencies were “treating unarmed growers like armed combatants. He wrote,
[There were] no guns at my property or neighbors. [My neighbor] went to meet [law enforcement] at the gate with his script and was meet with a dozen deputies in full tactical gear…assault weapons drawn and ready to take him down. The property owner was a hair trigger away from a terrible accident. …We really deserve local deputies that can make the judgement of which growers pose a threat and which …growers are just a few dozen plants over the limit.There is no rational reason for a guy holding his 215 to look down the barrel of dozen assault rifle.
For more on how growers are viewing this last week’s raid, KMUD has an interview with a woman who describes when her marijuana grow was eradicated.