Yesterday the DEA released their annual report on marijuana, citing water usage by the illegal grow operations. They must be running out of reasons to keep marijuana illegal.
About 72 million gallons of water were used to irrigate San Diego County’s thirsty and illegal marijuana operations, enough to serve 440 families for a year, and that’s only for the ones that were found.
Law enforcement officials made that statement Thursday at a news conference at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Diego office as they announced the number of illegal pot plants seized countywide so far this year.
DEA’s Annual Report on Marijuana
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Hill said in the annual report for marijuana, that it takes about 900 gallons of water to grow an outdoor marijuana plant to harvest, and about half that for an indoor plant.
“With the ongoing drought here in California, we’re all aware of how important it is to conserve water … but what most people don’t realize is how much water is used to grow a marijuana plant and that most of that water is stolen,” Hill said.
And, he said, most of the 98 indoor and outdoor pot operations that were shut down by the county’s Narcotics Task Force and its partners used stolen water or water sucked from natural sources.
One 13,000-plant farm, nestled in the foliage of Palomar Mountain, sucked a nearby natural spring dry, Hill said. He said another operation illegally siphoned water from a Valley Center Municipal Water District hydrant.
Gary Arant, general manager of the Valley Center district, said water theft of all sorts, including illegal marijuana operations, could easily undo the “outstanding effort” of residents to conserve water, and even result in fines for water districts that don’t meet conservation quotas set by the state.
“We encourage customers to contact us immediately if they see suspicious activity around water facilities such as recently disturbed soil … open and disturbed meter boxes … or hoses connected or near some of our hydrants,” Arant said.
In all, 88,213 plants were seized, compared to 131,818 marijuana plants from 103 locations during the same period last year.
Hill said the number of indoor growing operations stayed about the same, but outdoor farms decreased about 20 percent in 2015. He attributed that decline to the drought as well, saying water is harder to come by.
Law enforcement teams also found fewer hash oil labs, from 54 in 2014 to 34 in 2015. Only one was discovered after an explosion, down from nine hash oil lab explosions reported the year before.
Although there were fewer labs, officials emphasized their danger, calling them a “significant threat to public safety.”
Pot seizure tallies
2013: 89 arrests; 113 illegal marijuana operations; 120,084 plants; 30 hash oil labs
2014: 129 arrests; 103 marijuana operations; 131,818 plants; 54 hash oil labs
2015: 115 arrests; 98 marijuana operations; 88,213 plants; 34 hash oil labs