Archives: Seasons 1-5
Segment | Politics

Cannabis Cowboys

Over four million pot plants destroyed, this season alone. Squads of law enforcement officials spend each fall eradicating plants from thousands of illegal pot farms. The cops say most are operated by Mexican cartels. They figure it's easier to grow the weed here then it is to try and smuggle it across the border.

Finding the pot farms is the easy part - they can be fairly easily spotted from the air. But getting to them is where it gets tough. Many are in very rugged, remote areas

Correspondent John Larson went on a search and destroy mission with a group of elite officers we call the Cannabis Cowboys.

This story was part of our duPont-Columbia award winning series on marijuana in Southern California. Check out the rest:

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The "search and destroy mission" narrated by John Larson was interesting, and maddening.

Fifteen years ago, I listened to a forest service enforcement officer make some of the same comments voiced on the program: pot growers sometimes act violently toward officers of the law, and pot growers use pesticides that harm the land.

Pot growers aren't going away, and unfortunately, neither are the law enforcement officers. Nor is the expense the cat and mouse game engenders going away either.

Most of all, pot isn't going away. It's everywhere.

If pot were legal, to grow and sell in California - we wouldn't have people shooting at law enforcement officials, we wouldn't have chemicals polluting the land. All we have to do is legalize marijuana, and the violence and cost of enforcement will end.

But it won't end, because the growers and those who try to stop them are stuck in a devil's dance. A lot of police officers will be out of work if pot is legalized - so pot won't be legalized. Too much is at stake keeping it illegal.

But keeping pot illegal is madness, and a a part of the reason the state of California has gone broke.

Mr. Wyman,your analysis is incorrect. Most of the marijuana grown by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations is destine for markets outside of Califorina. These criminal organizations are headquartered in CA to traffic cocaine, heroin, meth, and weed. If anyone thinks legalizing marijuana in CA will stop what they are doing, including growing marijuana, they are merely fooling themselves!

Why do these reports always miss the obvious? Legalize cannabis, regulate it like alcohol, and everything in this "expose" will disappear. Instead, we could have tax revenue and regulations preventing access by minors. Remove it from the black market and you eliminate the criminals. This modern day Reefer Madness serves no good purpose; this piece just demonstrates a waste of public resources that are so badly needed elsewhere.

I agree with Neti. It's amazing how this simple plant has been so demonized that the obvious seems radical and the radical seems obvious.

Legalize it and move on. It's just a plant.

This is a very sad reality. It is sad that the reality is; our government doesn't learn from it's history, instead we are doomed to always repeat it. Just as in 1920s-the early 1930s all prohibition does is fuel underground markets, i.e, cannabis gardens. If we only could educate those who are unaware of the many benefits of the cannabis plant,(hemp,fuel,food,medicine,clothes) and the importance of the governments regulation on it. The U.S needs to wake up and change before things only get worse. In the time where Mexico has legalized the personal use of all drugs, Canada drug policies are getting more and more lenient;we are only opening the door to more underground cartels and corruption. It is only through legalization and regulation that we will find safety in our state parks and be able to safely buy our medicine.

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