Sheriff to Musk: Help us stop illegal pot grows
Siskiyou County, California, Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue took to Facebook again this week to seek help in dealing with the area’s illegal marijuana growing operations.
This time LaRue pleaded for help from one of the wealthiest people in the world: Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc.
On Friday, LaRue posted a message to Musk on Twitter and included a link to his May 16 Facebook post about some of the issues stemming from illegal marijuana growing in his community with the title “@elonmusk Please help us!”
Musk is said to have an estimated net worth of $268 billion, according to a report by Investopedia May 6.
The Siskiyou County government website, www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/, directs people to a Facebook page to obtain information about LaRue’s department and its activities.
One of the people commenting about the sheriff asking Musk for help said they were doubtful Musk would be interested.
“Elon is a busy, busy man,” the person noted. “Seems like Siskiyou is running out of ideas, and this is a last resort.”
“We aren’t running out of ideas,” LaRue replied in a comment. “We are simply asking for assistance. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and it creates dialogue and brings attention to the problem we are facing.”
LaRue had previously taken to social media to get the attention of California Gov. Gavin Newsom in an effort to get help with enforcement against the growers.
The sheriff asked Newsom to declare a state of emergency and “acknowledge the rampant black market industry endangering our communities.”
LaRue wrote that once the state of emergency was in effect, California’s elected officials could help law enforcement better handle the myriad problems that come with these growers and their illegal activities.
That would include state legislators creating laws to address the various issues that come with these enterprises, supporting enforcement of those laws against the illegal cultivators, and providing funding so law enforcement can better “confront the problem,” he explained.
LaRue has also sought assistance from other state and federal elected officials. On Facebook, he invited them to come to the area for a tour so they could “come and experience this disaster first-hand.”
The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors adopted an emergency resolution in January 2020 and extended the resolution in March, according to board meeting minutes.
Aerial-view video was used to determine that roughly 5,000 greenhouses and outdoor sites are being used for illegal cannabis on government and private property in Siskiyou County.
It’s a quantity of illegal farming that’s “astronomical,” LaRue has stated.
Siskiyou County has had a moratorium against creation of commercial cannabis operations in its unincorporated areas since August 2017. It was first approved by the board of supervisors as an emergency measure and has since been extended twice.
LaRue’s mid-May social media post also includes a short video of what deputies have seen on these farms. It highlights animal cruelty and open swimming pools containing delivered water being used as water tanks for the crop.
Other problems include overuse of water, environmental degradation, labor exploitation and an overall increase in crime, the sheriff asserted.
LaRue has attempted to use more code enforcement and other noncriminal tools to crack down on these operations, including attempting to ban water deliveries to an unincorporated area where a large amount of grows are located.
The Mount Shasta Vista subdivision near Big Springs is home to a large number of Hmong farmers and many illegal marijuana farms. A federal judge issued an injunction against the county to stop it from halting delivery of water by truck to those farmers, according to The Associated Press.
The injunction stemmed from a suit brought by Hmong farmers against Siskiyou County’s water ban.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller said the county’s action raised “serious questions” about racial discrimination and leaves the growers without a source of water for drinking, bathing and growing food,“ AP wrote in September 2021.
The case is expected to resume next month, according to a Siskiyou County government staff member.
The sheriff’s office is closed for nonemergency business and walk-ins on Fridays. And this week, it was also closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day.
Numerous attempts to speak with LaRue and a Siskiyou County representative since the sheriff’s original post have been unsuccessful.
Reach reporter Terri Harber at email@example.com or 541-776-4468.