The reality of legal weed in California: Huge illegal grows, violence, worker exploitation and deaths

Intense cultivation is causing unmeasured environmental damage.
Los Angeles Times (US)
Thursday, September 8, 2022

california illegal growingProposition 64, California’s 2016 landmark cannabis initiative, sold voters on the promise a legal market would cripple the drug’s outlaw trade, with its associated violence and environmental wreckage. Instead, the law triggered a surge in illegal cannabis on a scale California has never before witnessed. Criminal enterprises operate with near impunity, leasing private land and rapidly building out complexes of as many as 100 greenhouses. Police are overwhelmed, able to raid only a fraction of the farms, and even those are often back in business in days. The raids rip out plants and snare low-wage laborers while those responsible, some operating with money from overseas, remain untouched by the law, hidden behind straw buyers and fake names on leases. Labor exploitation is common, and conditions are sometimes lethal.