Pubdate: Thu, 22 May 2008
Source: Lake County Record-Bee (Lakeport, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Record-Bee
Author: Dan Bernath


The environmental damage to our national parks caused by illegal
marijuana farms is tragic, but reports rarely mention the failed
policies and law enforcement tactics that create this predicament in
the first place ("Marijuana gardens deprive wildlife, environment,"
May 20).

California's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting claimed an impressive
sounding 3 million plants "eradicated" in 2007 alone. Yet even law
enforcement officials acknowledge that this represents only a small
percentage of what's growing in our parks.

By far the largest cash crop in California and in the United States,
criminals have plenty of incentive to cash in on the illegal marijuana
market. The huge profits offered by this market allow organized crime
syndicates to easily absorb the occasional loss of a grow operation to
law enforcement raids.

All these expensive tactics do is push these growing operations into
places where we really don't want them, such as our parklands and our

Reporter Terry Knight writes that "there is no real answer to the
destruction of national forests by the growers," but the answer is
very simple: Regulate marijuana's production and sale as we do with
alcohol, and marijuana growers would have no more incentive to wreak
havoc on our national forests than wine vineyard operators do.

Dan Bernath,

Assistant Director of Communications,

Marijuana Policy Project
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