Fresno County police have uprooted more than 136,000 weed plants this year, up from 24,000 in 2003, and have found 343 pot farms in 2013, up from 72 for all of 2009, the Wall Street Journal reports today.
It's a classic case of the balloon effect: the nation's pot supplies normally come from Mexico, augmented by illegal grows in the Northern California wilderness. Now that cops have squeezed pot growers in US national forests, and the US-Mexico border is at its biggest military build-up since the Spanish-American War — weed growers have moved into Central Valley farmland where they can hide plants amid vast acres of bitter melon, tomatoes, and other produce.
California medical marijuana guidelines allow for up to six mature plants per patient, unless a doctor says he or she needs more. California pot farmers can grow up to 99 plants before they trigger federal mandatory minimum sentences. One farmer this year found 11,500 plants hidden in his corn. Fresno police also raided a 25,000 plant farm this June, the Journal reports.