Drug czar: Feds won't support legalized pot
Published online on Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2009
By Marc Benjamin / The Fresno Bee
The federal government is not going to pull back on its efforts to curtail marijuana farming operations, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Wednesday in Fresno.
The nation's drug czar, who viewed a foothill marijuana farm on U.S. Forest Service land with state and local officials earlier Wednesday, said the federal government will not support legalizing marijuana.
"Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine," he said.
Kerlikowske said he can understand why legislators are talking about taxing marijuana cultivation to help cash-strapped government agencies in California. But the federal government views marijuana as a harmful and addictive drug, he said.
"Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit," Kerlikowske said in downtown Fresno while discussing Operation SOS -- Save Our Sierra -- a multiagency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern Fresno County.
Marijuana plants valued at more than $1.26 billion have been confiscated and 82 people arrested over the past 10 days in Fresno County. The operation started last week and is continuing.
By comparison, Tulare County's leading commodity -- milk -- was valued at about $1.8 billion in 2008.
Officials say the marijuana-eradication operation will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the exact amount won't be known until agencies can add up staffing, vehicle and other costs.
In Operation SOS, more than 314,000 plants were uprooted in 70 gardens -- numbers expected to rise as the enforcement action continues. Agents also seized $41,000 in cash, 26 firearms and three vehicles.
Planning for the operation began in February and focused on marijuana crops being backed by Mexican drug cartels, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.
Mims said many cartels are involved, but she would not name any because the investigation is still under way. All but one person arrested was from Mexico, officials said.
Ok I had to read this a few times before 1.26 billion in pot actually made sense in my mind. That is fucking amazing that there is that much pot growing in the foot hills of California a fucking billion dollars, and the fucked up thing about this is California is going broke.