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Indoor Marijuana Grows On The Rise In San Diego

Evening Edition

Aired 12/9/13 on KPBS News.

Drug enforcement agents in San Diego County said one-quarter of the 55 indoor marijuana labs discovered in San Diego County this year were extracting hash oil.

Drug enforcement agents in San Diego County are concerned about the latest trends among illegal marijuana growers: County and federal agents are finding more marijuana is being grown in indoor labs and more people are extracting hash oil, the honey-like substance that comes from burning the marijuana plant.

Fifty-five indoor marijuana labs were discovered in San Diego County this year. One out of four were extracting hash oil, which also led to explosions or house fires in up to 15 homes.

The San Diego division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's narcotics task force has partnered with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and Health Advocates Rejecting Marijuana group to combat illegal marijuana growers in the county.

Gary Hill, an assistant special agent in charge with the San Diego DEA office, said hash oil can be used and sold in various ways.

“It is this type of THC or hash oil that they would actually mix for edibles, and they also inhale it or smoke it, vaporize it — using high heat and causing an intense, intense high,” Hill said.

And while smoking hash isn’t new, Hill said the drug is far more potent than it was compared to 10 or 20 years ago.

“What we’re finding is that is the trend: that the people prefer to have higher percentage THC, and the easiest way to do that is using this hash oil,” Hill said.

William Sherman, special agent in charge with the San Diego County DEA office, said the rise in number of hash oil extraction labs and indoor marijuana grows is very concerning.

"These operations are a significant threat to public safety, and this NTF team will continue to investigate these illegal and dangerous cultivation and manufacturing operations, most of which have direct ties to local marijuana dispensary storefronts," Sherman said.

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 10, 2013 at 9:17 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

I don't see how these are a threat to public safety. People grow tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, sunflowers, many plants at home. What is dangerous about growing this kind of plant at home?

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Avatar for user 'COEnygaard'

COEnygaard | December 10, 2013 at 9:18 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

"More teenagers are smoking marijuana instead of cigarettes." Funny, sounds like a positive improvement to me. Maybe excessive pot consumption is a problem, but a very minor one compared to other issues such as gang relations and acceptance by youth.

I don't know maybe the DEA is involved in the drug trade and doesn't like people getting involved with there source of revenue.

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Avatar for user 'COEnygaard'

COEnygaard | December 10, 2013 at 9:21 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

The problem is they are extracting hash oil in their house and potential causing house fires, which can impact the safety of neighbors and the environment.

Plus drug use no matter how safe has an impact on the decisions of youth and adults alike. Its important to see the differences between marijuana and other controlled substances. This I do not believe teenagers tend to understand, and have even less ability to explain this to new users of a similar age.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 10, 2013 at 10:09 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

COEnygaard well I see a simple solution: Do the extraction out in the back yard where it is well ventilated and combustible gas won't build up. If pot wasn't illegal people could extract hash outside just like people who brew beer in their yard.

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Avatar for user 'xmastree'

xmastree | December 10, 2013 at 10:41 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

This has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with asset seizure and forfeiture. They can barely keep straight faces as they try to describe things they barely understand.

These idiots have been using the same argument that "this is more potent than your parents pot, thus more dangerous" since before I was in grade school. I'm thirty two. It's fucking fine.

More houses are burned down by Christmas trees and thanksgiving turkeys than there are retards who attempt butane extraction indoors, let's set up a joint federal state local task force for that! Oh wait, that would be retarded, just like this is.

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Avatar for user 'Miles'

Miles | December 10, 2013 at 11:46 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

A garden, whether indoors or out, and regardless of what's growing in it, does not constitute a "lab" … !

Journalism, on the other hand, does constitute something more than just parroting whatever the government says.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 10, 2013 at 2:58 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

"These operations are a significant threat to public safety..."

===

Typical federal agent trying to scare the public to justify his budget and job. Why is the SD Sheriff's Office cooperating with this unjustified nonsense?

If we Californians wish to legalize marijuana and tax it to raise our quality of life, we have that sovereign right. The US government and its agents must obey our laws or get out.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | December 10, 2013 at 3:49 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Many of the problems have nothing to do with the weed itself. It is the scabbed in/out of code electrical that is the real issue. It is a danger to the homes surrounding it. Fire can easily spread between homes if the homes are close together as many are these days. There are other various chemicals present which can present an inhalation hazard, but mostly to those inside the premise. Not to mention for now it is illegal. Probably not for much longer. But still against the law.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 10, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

If it wasn't against the law people wouldn't need to do sneaky things and create dangerous situations with their pot.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 10, 2013 at 5:04 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Well said JM and that really ends the discussion about fire danger which seems to be the only "threat" to public safety that anyone can come up with.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | December 11, 2013 at 10:32 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

I agree with you guys that it should be legal. I think our culture has shifted towards a lot more acceptance. But while it is illegal the laws should and must be obeyed. You are basically pissing on the constitution and our democracy when you blatantly disregard the laws put forth by democratic process. Whether those laws are about as whack as the net worth of our elected officials of this do nothing congress or not. It's time to clean house and come together to make this the america we all love. Even though we all disagree on a lot; I know we all have our land and people at heart.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | December 11, 2013 at 11:06 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

"But while it is illegal the laws should and must be obeyed. You are basically pissing on the constitution and our democracy when you blatantly disregard the laws put forth by democratic process."

This is a great argument in favor of medical marijuana, as it stands.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | December 11, 2013 at 12:12 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Medical mj is a farce. Everyone kmows it. As soon as we can acknowledge this we can have some more open and honest dialouge. Ive spent 10 years on an ambulance an seen a handful of people actually using mj as it was intended. The vast mojority were just stoners gaming the system.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | December 11, 2013 at 2:16 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

"Medical mj is a farce. Everyone kmows it."

"But while it is illegal the laws should and must be obeyed. You are basically pissing on the constitution and our democracy when you blatantly disregard the laws put forth by democratic process."

You have successfully argued against yourself.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 11, 2013 at 3:31 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

As the great snoop dogg said - "smoke weeEeedd e'ry day"

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Avatar for user 'COEnygaard'

COEnygaard | December 11, 2013 at 8:03 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Its an easy statement to make, "well if it wasn't illegal then it would be fine." Though i doubt that legalizing marijuana will be a simple solution. Whether I agree or not.

The problem is that marijuana is a misunderstood substance. Law Enforcement does what its told to do.

If you think it should be legalized go protest about it, or get involved in political legislature to change it. Start doing the foot work to show it is not a dangerous substance, perform medical tests, make it public. I honestly don't think it would be that difficult to change policy on pot. Honestly its a shame that such a simple substance can impact peoples lives so drastically. There's a lot of hype about its use and there is a huge culture that surrounds it that honestly puts it in a bad light. For example movies like pineapple express etc do nothing to improve the image of marijuana but as long as media like that is pushed onto the public it will be difficult to get true political support to change laws.

Until then be prepared to get arrested, detained, imprisoned, etc..

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 12, 2013 at 8:47 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

COEnygaard in my opinion you are approaching the problem incorrectly. We do not need to prove that weed is safe to make it legal. We need to allow people to make their own health choices and decide what they do to their own bodies. I do not need the government to tell me what to do with my body. I am an adult and the government was never intended to take on the role of a parent. I do not use any drugs and I never will, but I sure as hell believe that the government has no role in dictating what people do to their bodies.

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Avatar for user 'jenjen'

jenjen | December 12, 2013 at 9:52 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

By the logic of folks opposed to legalization of pot, if we discovered alcohol today it would be illegal. Talk about a health and safety hazard. Oh wait, it's a multi-billion dollar industry, never mind.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 12, 2013 at 10:45 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

They can just move the revenue stream from the DEA to the IRS by taxing these drugs. The government will still be getting the money.

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Avatar for user 'COEnygaard'

COEnygaard | December 12, 2013 at 10:26 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

The public has had mass amount of media put in their face to suggest that marijuana is detrimental to the health of youth and the general public alike for decades. So creating an understanding of its true impact on the body is necessary for the public to recognize misinformation, because this could impact the reaction of the public to other forms of misinformation regarding much more important subject matter.

I understand your statement about not needing the government to tell you what to or not to ingest, but that would suggest that it should be OK for individuals to get hooked on the use of drugs such as krokidil and that governing organizations should not do anything about it.

The fact that people, not the government, were able to make alcohol illegal is only a show of what the true power of the public is and should not only be used as an excuse to legalize all substances.

I believe that in the case of marijuana there was corrupt and bad politics involved in deciding the state of its legal status.

What I'm getting at is yes, federal government may be the root of current issues between peoples rights and its abuse when concerning controlled substances, but lets remember that though the system may be out of whack it still requires voter support to pass or change laws. To sit back and think that your ideas or statements are enough when dissatisfied with current policy, is frustrating to me because it creates nothing.

So taxing narcotics may be a good way to create revenue for the country but when brothers, sisters, uncles, fathers etc are getting hooked on these various substances their family members are going to do what has already been done, push for legislation to limit, control or stop its use. This is why i say that legalization is not such a simple solution. I feel that yes if someone wants to snort or inject coke well i guess they have that right, if someone wants to take hallucinogenic chemicals OK have fun, but when these substances start to be perceived or actually become a public threat then people, governments, what have you, should step in to control it. Because if parental figures are not going to step in and inform the youth on the real impacts of substances that can alter your perception, or if they themselves do not know anything about it then government based organizations such as schools etc should be their to inform, but this information needs to be controlled, correct, and unbiased.

So an increase in pot being grown in house should be a concern because at the moment pot is connected with other drug trafficking and this makes it potentially dangerous. Does anything the above cop stated have any real truth concerning weed and its potential danger, no I think what he stated is a load of crap and I would rather see kids smoking weed and playing video games then I would see them puffin on packs of cigarettes.

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