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Despite the growing tide of support for legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use in California and the country at large, federal and state law enforcement agents destroyed over 460,000 plants and arrested over 101 people in Northern California, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The bust occurred over the last few weeks in Mendocino National Park, which is part of the "Emerald Triangle," known as a prized area for cultivating boutique strains of cannabis.
Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for Northern California, announced the details of the sweep, dubbed Operation Full Court Press. Haag alleges the park was "under attack" by drug traffickers who were intimidated by the growers.
However, the announcement coincided with the recent California Secretary of State's OK to circulate a petition to include a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana next November. Supporters of legalization are proposing growers to be treated like vineyards and microbrewers. Those who engage in the sale of weed would be placed under the administration of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
“Churning low-level drug offenders through the system for no particular good purpose is very expensive along the way,” retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray told KCBS.
One can only wonder of the U.S. attorney's busts were timed to send a message to legalization proponents and the state of California, despite the swelling interest in an individual's right to consume cannabis and a state's right to legislate its own laws for the drug.