The cost of pointless marijuana eradication efforts in California went up Wednesday when sheriff’s deputies shot and killed an unidentified man while hiking around in the woods looking for clandestine grow sites.
It is currently unknown whether this man was involved in marijuana cultivation, whether he was armed or fired at deputies, or even if there was any marijuana found nearby. Authorities are being typically tight-lipped about the entire incident.
What is known, beyond any doubt, is that eradication efforts are a complete failure, despite a huge fiscal and human cost.
Every year, state and local law enforcement agents suit up in camouflage and spend weeks going on hiking trips or flying around in helicopters looking for marijuana. They spend vast amounts of money trying to find more marijuana than previous years, in order to be eligible for federal funds that they, in turn, spend on finding more marijuana the next year.
And sometimes, people die. Whether in shootouts with criminal cultivators (and possibly innocent hikers) or in accidents in the rugged terrain, people are hurt and killed every year during eradication efforts.
And yet, both legal and illicit marijuana is still plentiful in California. So what is worse, the “problem” or the “solution?”
According to one local business-owner, the answer is obvious:
"We see something like this every once in a while, you know, there's a lot of these marijuana patches out this way," said Howard Miller, 69, owner of the Junction Bar and Grill Restaurant at 47300 Mines Road, which claims to be "as close to the Old West as you can get."
"The marijuana patches don't bother me," Miller said. "But I don't like the shootouts."
Perhaps the cowboys in camouflage do, since they consistently rally against the one thing that would eliminate illicit growing on public land and end this tragic farce: taxing and regulating marijuana.