State grabs $1 billion in pot

The numbers look good on paper and make for dramatic news copy, but the $1.25 billion the state says the marijuana it seized last year is worth will never be funneled into the state coffers. That’s because the money doesn’t actually exist—unless, that is, the state decides to manicure, bag and sell the dope rather than destroy it.

In a report tallying the success of the state’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that from July to October last year CAMP seized 313,776 plants in 149 raids conducted in 23 counties by 70 local, state and federal agents. The state generously says each plant—regardless of size, health, sex or maturity—is worth close to $4,000 wholesale.

For their efforts, agents made just 20 arrests and confiscated 19 weapons. Tehama County coughed up the most plants in the state with a staggering 54,504, beating out mythical marijuana Mecca Humboldt County, which had a relatively paltry 12,224 plants pulled from the ground.

About 60 percent of the plants were taken from private lands, the rest from public lands such as state and national parks and forests. About 70 percent of the plants were taken from suspected Mexican-national operations.

“Our investigations indicate that about 70 percent of the plants seized this year were from gardens operated by individuals with ties to Mexican drug cartels that are also involved in the production of methamphetamine and other narcotics,” Lockyer explained in a press release.

CAMP teams have pulled some 2.6 million plants with an estimated street value of $9.1 billion since the program began in 1983.