A look at marijuana policing trends and why they matter
Thursday, January 02, 2020
Some say that there is a generational war over American cannabis laws going on right now. While many states have legalized marijuana and cannabis-based businesses are flourishing, there are instances of illegal pot causing havoc around the country.
In recent news from California, the city of Rancho Cordova and Sacramento County underwent a massive crackdown on illegal marijuana operations that hurt legal cannabis businesses. The pot police, as these investigators are colloquially termed, have seized over 3,100 marijuana plants in Rancho Cordova alone.
The increase in these illegal grow houses has led to increased crime, undermining the safety of citizens and lowering property values. Rancho Cordova recently funded a new undercover position in the police department, which aims to be responsive to the community and investigate illegal commercial marijuana cultivation.
Another county in the state, Stanislaus County, has announced a $1,000 fine per plant per day to stem illegal pot grows. Authorities hope that the new penalty will help support local and legal businesses.
Counties like these are not the only ones worried about illegal pot grows. Instances of such fines being levied on property owners in Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and New York have been in the news recently. A Time magazine report states that the proliferation of illegal pot growth in California is causing severe environmental hazards, a situation that could very well spread to other regions soon.
On the other hand, there is a counter-intuitive pot trend that we need to consider as well. While marijuana legalization is growing in the U.S., it is now easier to get busted for possession. Investing in a marijuana business is still risky, despite being an extremely lucrative option.
The latest data from the FBI shows that marijuana-related arrests have risen for the third consecutive year, and the numbers are 21% higher than the total number of arrests for violent crimes.
90% of these arrests are for marijuana possession offenses only, a reflection of increasing social conservativism at a federal level. It is surprising to see such a large percentage of anti-marijuana sentiment when we hear every day from users and experts about the medicinal benefits of marijuana.
New York’s recreational marijuana battle tells us a story from a different angle concerning the lack of diversity in arrests. While law enforcement agencies vow to keep making marijuana arrests, social organizations like the ACLU state that the majority of those being arrested are black and Latino people.
Reports suggest that most of the illegal grow houses being busted belong to these demographics. Efforts are ongoing to investigate such claims and prevent further injustice. Many local law enforcement agencies, however, have pledged to continue them war against pot.
Then, there are the cases of marijuana vaping, which may fall under blurry lines when it comes to legality but create serious health concerns. Authorities have seized at least 510,000 marijuana vape cartridges all over the country in recent months and have made numerous arrests.
Vaping has gained ground in recent years because it offered an alternative to smoking. For marijuana users, it offered an even more discreet and faster-acting alternative to smoking. Law enforcement officers are on the lookout for vape cartridges that look like legal nicotine vapes, don’t smell like pot, and can thus bypass scrutiny.
Vaping itself is now construed as a health hazard rather than a safer alternative for smokers. Health officials are urging people to avoid vaping following the alarming reports of deadly lung illnesses, especially for users who opt for illicit THC vaping.
The illegal marijuana vape market is estimated to reach $2.5 billion. Advocates of marijuana legalization thus support the crackdown on illegal grows. They state that legalizing and regulating the drug will make it safer for users instead of giving consumers an option of using black-market marijuana cartridges.
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