Friday, December 9, 2022

California’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Eradicates Nearly One Million Illegal Cannabis Plants in 2022

The following is a press release issued by the Office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta:


Massive hoop houses surrounded by refuse in Siskiyou County [Photograph provided by Siskyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue]

California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the eradication of nearly one million illegally cultivated cannabis plants and the seizure of more than 200,000 pounds of illegally processed cannabis as part of the California Department of Justice’s annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program. Since 1983, this 13-week program has eradicated more than 33 million illegal cannabis plants. Beginning this fall, this seasonal eradication program will transition into a year-round task force. The Eradication and Prevention of Illicit Cannabis (EPIC) task force will allow the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to build out its cannabis enforcement work and investigate and prosecute civil and criminal cases with a focus on environmental, economic, and labor impacts from illegal cultivation.

“California has the largest safe, legal, and regulated cannabis market in the world, but unfortunately illegal and unlicensed grows continue to proliferate,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The California Department of Justice’s CAMP task force works tirelessly each year to eradicate illegal grows and reclaim our public lands, but shutting down these grows is no longer enough. With the transition to EPIC, we’re taking the next step and building out our efforts to address the environmental and economic harms and labor exploitation associated with this underground market. I want to thank all our local, state, and federal partners for their longstanding collaboration on CAMP and ongoing commitment to tackle this problem through the EPIC task force.”

“Collaboration is one of our best defenses in combatting illicit cannabis grows. Our continued partnership with the multiagency CAMP program aligns with our core mission to protect California’s native plants, fish and wildlife,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Additionally, removing untested and potentially harmful cannabis products from the illicit market, helps the regulated cannabis market succeed, while providing another layer of public safety.”

“Illegal cultivation of marijuana on public lands continues to be a major problem for California. These illegal operations have a devastating impact on our environment and the health and safety of communities and public land users,” said Karen Mouritsen, California State Director for the Bureau of Land Management. “The BLM is proud to be a part of CAMP’s federal, state and local law enforcement partnership and its mission to protect our public lands and maintain public safety.” 

[Graphic provided by the Office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta]

“CAMP and the cooperative efforts of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners play a vital role in sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands,” said Dylan Ragan, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Land Management’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security in California. “Working together, we bring a whole government approach to combating the damage caused by illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands. This cultivation threatens public lands by introducing dangerous pesticides, unlawfully diverting waterways, and involving drug trafficking organizations.” 

“The USDA, Forest Service, Law Enforcement and Investigations (USDA, FS, LEI) has been a partner in the CAMP program for the entirety of its nearly 30-year history,” said Jeff Sadowski, Assistant Special Agent in Charge – Aviation and Special Operations, U.S. Forest Service. “The USDA, FS, LEI looks forward to a similarly exemplary relationship with the new EPIC program in continuing to pursue those who would damage our public lands through the illicit production of marijuana.”   

Over the course of the 2022 season, CAMP teams operating in Northern, Central, and Southern California, conducted 449 operations, recovered 184 weapons, and removed nearly 67,000 pounds of cultivation infrastructure, including dams, water lines, and containers of toxic chemicals, such as carbofuran, methyl parathion, aluminum phosphate, zinc phosphide, and illegal fertilizers. Carbofuran, in particular, poses untold risks to public health. A lethal insecticide that is effectively banned in the United States, carbofuran remains on plants after application and seeps into soil and nearby water sources. Just a quarter teaspoon of carbofuran can kill a 600-pound lion.

In 2022, CAMP operations were conducted in the following 26 counties:

  • Mendocino: 18 sites, 190,018 plants eradicated
  • Riverside: 77 sites, 159,287 plants eradicated
  • San Bernardino: 41 sites, 138,815 plants eradicated
  • Lake: 51 sites, 97,677 plants eradicated
  • Kern: 53 sites, 77,837 plants eradicated
  • Siskiyou: 52 sites: 68,130 plants eradicated
  • Trinity: 22 sites, 46,632 plants eradicated
  • Monterey: 11 sites, 37,247 plants eradicated
  • Tulare: 30 sites, 27,020 plants eradicated
  • Shasta: 19 sites, 26,413 plants eradicated
  • San Benito: 1 site, 24,295 plants eradicated
  • Los Angeles: 20 sites, 23,492 plants eradicated
  • Sacramento: 4 sites, 17,973 plants eradicated
  • Fresno: 19 sites, 11,064 plants eradicated
  • Madera: 14 sites, 8,757 plants eradicated
  • Nevada: 2 sites, 8,279 plants eradicated
  • Mariposa: 11 sites, 5,761 plants eradicated
  • Ventura: 1 site, 2,370 plants eradicated
  • San Diego: 2 sites, 1,510 plants eradicated
  • Sonoma: 1 site, 1,407 plants eradicated
  • Santa Barbara: reconnaissance only
  • Santa Cruz: reconnaissance only
  • Santa Clara: reconnaissance only
  • Tuolumne: reconnaissance only
  • Humboldt: reconnaissance only
  • Stanislaus: reconnaissance only

CAMP is a multi-agency collaboration led by DOJ in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service; the U.S. Department of the Interior’s  Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service; the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration; the California National Guard, Counter Drug Task Force; the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program; California State Parks; and other local law enforcement departments. 

[Graphic provided by the Office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta]

EPIC marks an evolution in DOJ’s cannabis enforcement work, reflecting the issues and concerns arising from CAMP operations each summer. EPIC will work in close coordination with DOJ’s Cannabis Control Section, Special Prosecutions Section, and Tax Recovery and Underground Economy (TRUE) Task Force to build investigations and prosecute civil and criminal cases.

Materials produced by DOJ are available for download and use by producers and members of the media. Please contact agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov. Graphics of 2022 CAMP season statistics are available here and here.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like the AG is trying to sell snake oil. Last year I spoke with the sheriff he estimated there were over one million plants just in Covelo. And the state seized a million from the entire state.AG Banta is a joke!

  2. Hey why don’t they go after the soil and processing companies, demanding that they only do business with fully certified growers? Big Daddy is one of the biggest tax revenue producers in the county, is anyone checking that they’re selling to only licensed growers? What about gro west? Shady AF.
    Or they could just make it actually legal but there’s no money in that.
    Grow your own weed!! Stop supporting dispensaries. Don’t go to Cookies! Stay golden pony!! Save our watersheds(and not for the grape growers!)

    • Hey Buddy, this is America, turns out you need soil to grow things other than weed, try to stop stores from selling things and there will be some serious lawsuits

      • Right but cannabis is a fresh soil every year crop. Just saying the county is making money off cannabis through other ways than just the bud. Why spend time and money ripping out the plant when soil is being sold and making profit? Under the guise of environmentalism? Soil is PRODUCED. No one is farming organic natural compost native soil grown pot plants. It’s all bagged soil. Big Daddy ain’t big cause people suddenly are growing all their produce at home. Its cause they sell soil every year to pot farms. So why eradicate plants but keep making profit off soil?

      • If you are having to change your soil every year, you’re doing it wrong. Soil is a living thing and to grow large healthy plants it must be maintained and revitalized during the winter months. It requires working and feeding the soil. Unlicensed large scale criminal growers of course don’t do any more work than the bare minimum. But real organic growers know the way to super soil!

    • Exactly! Criminal growers are supporting the soil industry (‘doing it wrong’) which is making the county money in tax revenue.
      The county is being supported by big bad illegal grows. Stupid that they pretend ripping out plants is noble when they are making it back from the grow supplies industry.
      Legalize it in Idaho and get rid of the black market.
      Legalize it, don’t advertise it.

  3. Stop smoking weed. Then we can go back to normal life before the whole world “went to pot.” Simple as that! Just stop smoking it, stop buying it.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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