Archives: Seasons 1-5

October 15, 2009

We join an elite law enforcement team deep in the California marijuana jungle. Each year they raid thousands of illegal pot farms, most on public land. Correspondent John Larson takes us on a search and destroy mission. As it turns out, there's nothing quite as valuable to these off-the-grid farmers than a bit of pilfered water. Back in L.A. proper, after hundreds of hours of discussion and more than a dozen official meetings, the Los Angeles City Council has finally approved a new ordinance regulating. In this follow-up to a story SoCal Connected has been investigating for more than two years, correspondent Judy Muller explains what the new ordinance will do, why it took the council so long to act, and how some clinic operators are already preparing to challenge its legality. Also this episode, commentator Marcos Villatoro talks about his own son's dealing habits.

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Trutanich's claim of pesticides rebutted by science:

(This is a guest blog on by M. Backes, responding to allegations by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich about pesticides on medical cannabis.)

LA City Attorney, Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich, has been all over the media trying to convince Los Angeles that a pesticide used to kill Mexican fire ants is evidence that medical cannabis provided by dispensaries is poisonous and supporting Mexican drug cartels. Having abandoned the flawed interpretation of the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Mentch, Mr. Trutanich and LA County District Attorney Steve Cooley have now latched onto toxic reefer as their latest justification for shuttering LA’s pot shops.

According to Trutanich, three samples of medical marijuana from “controlled buys” by undercover LAPD were tested by an FDA laboratory. On these samples, Mr Trutanich said the lab found high concentrations of an insecticide used to kill fire ants in Mexico. Trutanich claims this Mexican fire ant insecticide is evidence that LA medical cannabis is being supplied by the Mexican drug cartels.


There are no Mexican fire ants. There is the notorious red imported fire ant - solenopsis invicta – but that’s from Brazil, not Mexico. Those fire ants were accidently imported into the US in the 1930’s then spread across the southern United States. Fire ants were never found in Mexico, until they crossed the Texas border into northern Mexico a few years back. But even if expatriate Texan fire ants have decamped to Mexico, what does that prove about the origin of marijuana in Los Angeles dispensaries? If a cannabis dispensary uses chopsticks to pull marijuana buds from jars does that mean that the marijuana is being supplied by Chinese spies?

Pesticide testing is not a trivial exercise. It requires big, expensive, exquisitely sensitive machines that are capable of detecting just a few molecules. More importantly, pesticide testing requires a large plant sample to produce precise results. EMA, the largest testing lab in California requires a minimum 200 gram sample. So, did Los Angeles dispensaries sell Mr. Trutanich’s undercover cops three half-pound bags of weed? That’s an interesting scenario… ”I’ll take a brownie, an eighth of Kush, and… throw in half a pound of that Sour D.” It’s more likely that Mr. Trutanich would have had much smaller samples tested, with a much higher risk of error in the testing.

But what’s this insecticide poisoning cannabis patients in LA? Well, it’s a bit more complex than Mr Trutanich would have you believe. The insecticide that Nuch found in his big bag of herb was bifenthrin. Bifenthrin belongs to a very common class of insecticides called pyrethroids. The most common pyrethroid is pyrethrum, which is made from chrysanthemums. Pyrethrum is considered safe enough for use on organic fruits, herbs and vegetables throughout the world, including cannabis. See, most pyrethroids aren’t all that toxic, except to fish and some insects. However, they’re not that good at stopping fire ants. Nothing is.

What’s with this whole Mexican angle? Mr Trutanich claims that bifenthrim is not used in California and by implication that its use is restricted to less enlightened places, such as Mexico. But Mr. Trutanich is dead wrong. According to, California farmers used 107,000 pounds of bifenthrim on their crops in 2007. They used it on corn, almonds, strawberries, even wine grapes. Fifty tons of it.

What messages should we take away from Trutanich’s Cassandra call? That the City Attorney and the County DA will say anything in their attempt to close LA’s medical cannabis collectives and that you might wish to keep medical cannabis away from your aquarium. Remember that in June 2009, state drug warriors had their budgets slashed 20% in Sacramento. Medical marijuana remains the lowest hanging fruit for prosecutors and narcs to make cases and boost their stats. Certainly easier than busting those Mexican drug cartels.

Trutanich stated to FOX NEWS “it’s not enough to say conclusively that this dope is coming from here (Mexico), okay. but? but, you know, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, you know, chances are that if you look a little closer, you may be dealing with a duck.”

Well… if it thinks like a duck, it might be the LA City Attorney.

California cannabis patients should be protected from contaminants in their medicine. That protection comes from intelligent regulations, something that the City Attorney’s office has been stalling for two years. Perhaps it’s time we stopped wasting tax money busting legitimate medical marijuana facilities and started researching how cannabis can be used more effectively as a medicine.

So, Trutanich's "intellegent" approach includes deciding that the correct scientific amounts of material to test so that ACCURATE conclusions can be made about the levels of contaminates in medical marijuana, doesn't apply to him or this witch hunt. I'm so glad we have an "Intelligent" man in office.

The following was published at

Trutanich: Accused of Bullying, Questioned on Red Ant Theory
LA’s Medical Marijuana Mess
By Michael Cohen

Active Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich was taking questions from the floor at the October 10 Congress of Neighborhoods. Trutanich and a woman, later identifying herself as Kathryn Schorr and claiming to be a cancer survivor and taking medical marijuana, got into a heated exchange. She felt that she was badly treated by Trutanich. (See video )

Trutanich said the marijuana being in sold in LA dispensaries, based on samples he supplied to the FDA, is contaminated by bifenthrin, a pesticide and also by other stuff he wouldn’t identify. Trutanich said the marijuana being in sold in LA dispensaries, based on samples he supplied to the FDA, is contaminated by bifenthrin, a pesticide and also by other stuff he wouldn’t identify.

After Schorr left the council chambers I went outside to talk to her. She appeared to be distraught and was crying and being comforted by a security guard and others. The security guard cautioned her not to drive home in her condition.

Schorr felt that Trutanich was overbearing and bullying her and he should have let her make her point without interference. That being, one needs some 10 pounds of marijuana sample to do a proper study. She had the floor and his insisting that she should give lead to her children was wrong. She said she couldn’t understand how an elected official could talk to her that way.

I spoke to Trutanich, Wednesday, when he said “he was sorry it happened that way and it came at the end of a long day. But she was lying, she was wrong, and I felt as she was lying I had to say so”, he said.

He said he was trying to make a point that smoking the contaminated marijuana was akin to eating lead.

Vol 7 Issue 85
Pub: Oct 16, 2009

Well Mr. Trutanich, your lying, your wrong, and I feel your lying and have to say so.

Outstanding program! Thank you KCET! There are thousands of us LA residents who have been shocked by these pot stores opening in our residential neighborhoods and becoming hangouts for some really sleazy people who are obviously recreational drug users (not medical patient). This isn't why we supported medical marijuana for people with AIDS, cancer, etc etc etc. Thank you for showing the disaster this is for us. No one besides KCET does this kind of indepth reporting any more. That's why I support KCET!

Talk about one sided journalism, this is it. Why not explore the 52% of Americans that believe Marijuana should be legalized. Seems to me the REAL criminal's are those that promote laws based on discrimination. How about doing a story on WHY Marijuana is illegal? The reason, is so absurd, that the government thinks it has the "power" to outlaw a plant, that ACTUAL research proves is relatively harmless,and the only deaths associated with it, are caused by law enforcement. It's a pathetic fact, that Marijuana, has contributed to no recordable deaths, but cops have contributed to hundreds of thousands of dead, non violent, citizens, pursuing happiness, that causes NO harm to others, except that inflicted by "law enforcement". Our government continues to lie about this subject, even though their lies have been proven just that, lies.
Here's a story that California Connected should be doing, LA county superior court judges get $57,000 a year from the county, but they're state employees. This amounts to bribery by the county. For a two year span, LA county won EVERY case heard before a judge. When these illegal payments were challenged, the judges wrote and got passed, a bill that gives them immunity to criminal prosecution, for these illegal payments, for the twenty years they've been receiving them. The California constitution states that "no ex post facto laws shall be passed". How about a story on SBX211, and how it deprives the people "due process" and their "right to a FAIR trial". And how judges are locking up lawyers who openly oppose these illegal payments, and question their "non-disclosure" of these illegal payments, as required by law. California Connected won't do a story on the major corruption in our court system, and state government. The legislature, and governor passed an illegal law, supporting illegal activity, by judges, and no one has the guts to make this news "available" to the public. Except,, and, if people want to know what's really effecting their everyday lives PBS isn't the place to look.

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