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California Making Seasonal Illegal Pot Eradication A Year-Round Effort

With California’s four-year-old legal marijuana market in disarray, Attorney General Rob Bonta will try a new broader approach to disrupting illegal pot farms that undercut the legal economy and sow environmental damage, the Associated Press reports. The state will expand its nearly four-decade multi-agency seasonal eradication program — the largest in the U.S. that seized nearly a million marijuana plants this year— into a year-round effort aimed at investigating who is behind the illegal grows. The new program will attempt to prosecute underlying labor crimes, environmental crimes and the underground economy centered around the illicit cultivations.

Bonta called it “an important shift in mindset and in mission” aimed at aiding California’s faltering legal market by removing dangerous competition. “The illicit marketplace outweighs the legal marketplace” Bonta said. “It’s upside down and our goal is complete eradication of the illegal market.” The annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting ( CAMP ) program started under Gov. George Deukmejian in 1983 will become a permanent Eradication and Prevention of Illicit Cannabis (EPIC) task force, Bonta said. CAMP began in “a very different time, a different era, a different moment during the failed war on drugs and (at) a time when cannabis was still entirely illegal,” Bonta said. The seasonal eradication program, which lasts about 90 days each summer, will continue with the cooperation of other federal, state and local agencies.


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