Cops: Record Pot Crop in California

Layoffs of sheriffs and rangers means more marijuana cultivated in public forests

Marijuana is a cash crop for the Golden State, according to federal officials.

"California is ground zero for domestic marijuana cultivation in the country," Drug Enforcement Agency assistant special agent Gordon Taylor told the San Francisco Chronicle.

State officials are estimating that this year's yield of the crop, with total estimates of over $10 billion, could be the biggest in history.

And that's in part due to cutbacks leaving fewer park rangers and sheriffs to protect the Sierras.

Before you start beaming with home-state pride, most of the plants are cultivated by poorly paid, poorly treated illegal immigrants on public park land where forests are clear cut and fertilizer and pesticide use rampant.

The bumper crop is expected to be distributed across the country, and even back into Mexico -- but that trade won't be helping the import-export balance, necessarily.

While officials suggest that legalization wouldn't stop the problem, taxes could pay for more enforcement of illegal farming in the wilderness and legal farming could be done openly on proper farms.

Jackson West wonders how, when billions of dollars in business is going on under everyone's nose, anyone thinks criminalization would ever work.

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