There’s an unsettling sense of deja vu to recent headlines of big cannabis raids in states that have legalized, from California’s Emerald Triangle to Colorado’s Front Range.
The upswing on such raids in the latter recently won some national media coverage, which provides fodder for opponents of legalization — and for those who favor a more restrictive model of legalization, in which there is no right to home cultivation.
The PBS News Hour on July 15 quoted Colorado’s ex-governor (and current Democratic presidential hopeful) John Hickenlooper. He was governor both when voters approved legal cannabis with the Amendment 64 initiative in 2012, and when legalization took effect two years later. “We thought that the black market would disappear,” he said. “Evidently, it contracted, and then began to expand again. And that’s counterintuitive, right? It’s not what you would expect.”
Backlash in Colorado
The PBS report detailed the March 2018 raids in Firestone, a staid suburban enclave north of Denver, in which the DEA seized more than 78,000 plants and more than 2,300 pounds of processed marijuana, serving almost 200 search warrants, making dozens of arrests. The raids were hyped by local media at the time as targeting a “drug cartel.”
The report didn’t note that there was a reprise of that episode this May, when federal agents backed up by local police arrested dozens in some 250 searches, seizing over 80,000 plants and 4,500 pounds of harvested bud. These raids targeted several locations across the state — again, including in upscale suburbs of the Denver metro area.