A marijuana bust on a California Indian reservation this week yielded more than 22,000 plants, and left 10 individuals in custody.
The Press Democrat reported that San Jose police had detained 10 people—two women and eight men—on Tuesday at Mendocino County’s Round Valley Indian Reservation, while detectives on the scene also reportedly “sought clues about a missing man believed to have been working in the cannabis industry before his disappearance in April.”
The newspaper said after deputies served a warrant that morning, they “found more than 22,100 cannabis plants inside 55 hoop houses, or long dome-shaped greenhouses made with PVC pipes and plastic tarps.”
Complaints Lead to Bust
The Press Democrat, citing Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall, said that the search on Tuesday “came in response to an influx of reports from Round Valley Indian Reservation residents about multiple illegal marijuana grows throughout the reservation, which were erected by people outside the Round Valley Indian Tribes over the last few months.”
“I’m not going to put up with it,” Kendall said in an online video, as quoted by the Press Democrat. “We can’t have people intimidated and held in their homes for fear that they can’t use the land that belongs to them.”
California’s recreational marijuana market launched at the beginning of 2018, but two years on, the illicit market is still alive and well. A report released last year found that the state’s unregulated cannabis market is three times larger than the regulated industry established by a ballot referendum in 2016, and that there remains about 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services throughout the state, compared with only 873 licensed marijuana dealers.
The United Cannabis Business Association, which represents licensed pot dealers in California, has complained about the persistence of the unregulated market, lobbying regulators and lawmakers in the state to crack down on services like Weedmaps, an app that allows users to locate dispensaries near them.