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Feds Target Illegal Cannabis Farms that Use Toxic Pesticides

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A new report identifies the rising prevalence of a highly toxic pesticide in illegal grow operations throughout California. In a May 29 announcement from The Associated Press, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott and California officials said that together they plan to use $2.5 million in federal funding to target illegal cannabis growing operations.

Even though California and federal laws don’t sync when it comes to cannabis, California’s U.S. Attorney said he will focus only on illegal grow operations. “The reality of the situation is there is so much black market marijuana in California that we could use all of our resources going after just the black market and never get there,” Scott said. “So for right now, our priorities are to focus on what have been historically our federal law enforcement priorities: interstate trafficking, organized crime and the federal public lands.”

President Donald Trump appointed Scott as U.S. Attorney for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California on December 29, 2017. Scott is expected to play an important role in the enforcement role of California’s recreational cannabis market.

Many have speculated that most of California’s illegal cannabis ends up en route to states in the Midwest or the eastern coast.

One highly toxic pesticide was mentioned by name—carbofuran.

A quarter teaspoon of carbofuran can kill a 300-pound bear yet it is common in street cannabis because of its potency and low price. Researcher Mourad Gabriel said that through his research, he and his fellow researchers found that carbofuran in 72 percent of the grow sites they examined last year, up 15 percent from 2012. Carbofuran is reportedly smuggled into the United States from Mexico, as it is a banned substance.

Experts estimate that about 60 percent of California’s water supply flows directly through national forests, and the study indicated that 40 percent of the water samples they examined that are downstream from illegal grows are contaminated.

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