Killed for a plant

Two marijuana-related shootings—one of them fatal—are further proof of prohibition’s failure

Think marijuana isn’t dangerous? Tell that to the pot-growing homeowner who shot and killed an intruder who wanted to steal his crop. That deadly attempted home-invasion robbery occurred in broad daylight last Tuesday, Nov. 26, in Palermo. And the very next day, the day before Thanksgiving, another man was shot in the face at a marijuana grow site in Feather Falls (see Downstroke, page 8).

Fall is one of the most dangerous times of the year for those who partake in this black-market enterprise. The growing season has only recently come to an end, and many of the foothills pot profiteers are sitting on their cash crops. There’s a lot of work to do between harvest—trimming and packaging, for example—and the time the traffickers decide to transport their yields to buyers in and out of the state.

The two shootings last week are just a couple of the high-profile incidents related to Butte County’s lucrative and sometimes treacherous world of illicit pot-growing.

Let’s not forget about the two bodies located in a shallow grave the summer before last at a large marijuana garden in the foothills just north of Magalia. Let’s also not forget about 24-year-old Neal King, a Chico resident whose vehicle was last seen in Oroville last March at the home of a man who reportedly agreed to give him 160 pounds of marijuana in exchange for real estate. King’s body has not been found, though authorities and his family are quite certain he’s dead. Killed for a plant?

All of this, of course, is further proof of what the CN&R has been saying for years: that marijuana prohibition serves only to keep intact the profit motive that makes cannabis cultivation such a risky venture. It’s time to legalize it.

How many more people have to be maimed or murdered before that happens?