Letter Re: Could America’s Pot Growers Start Growing Opium Poppies?

Dear Jim,
I thought I would let you know about something interesting going on in the Gold Country of California. Some SurvivalBlog readers may be aware that the North San Juan Ridge, aka “The Ridge” is highly populated with homesteaders, [near Grass Valley, California,, in Nevada County.] Since the soil is poor, and there are many squatters or people on largely undeveloped land, few make sufficient money from growing food for themselves, so turned to growing [marijuana, commonly called] pot.
 
In the old days, pot was illegal and the Fed and State CAMP task force would survey and raid pot farms, which went on the news.
 
After pot got into a gray area of legality and growers aren’t required to display legal certification so half the raids have to walk away while the farmer laughs, the pot farmers work almost openly. Pot is growing all over the place now, not just on the ridge. There are pot plants downtown grass valley in people’s gardens, next to their corn.
 
There have been articles in the local newspaper about “Trimmers” coming into town to harvest “medical marijuana” in North San Juan Ridge. I saw many of them around, looking very smug. When the work was done, those paid well enough left town once more. Others have stayed on with new friends for planting and tending next year’s crop.
 
For the most part, things are quiet up there. However, there were several reported instances of “home invasion robberies” by trimmers breaking into pot farms to steal the prepared bricks of marijuana or the money tucked away for the year’s expenses after making their sales down in the cities. There’s a lot more money than there used to be, so there’s more violent crime occurring. And since North San Juan is not incorporated, there is a long wait from a 911 call to the Deputies showing up, and they also show up armed for bear and looking very grim. Apparently the farmers shoot back. Or try.
 
Picture if you will, California goes for full legalization of marijuana, for all users, no restrictions, claiming taxes blah blah blah. It already happened in Washington State and Colorado. It will likely happen in the PRK. What will the pot growers do when their carefully managed remote farms are forced to sell their dope for 10 cents on the dollar of the former price and the money just isn’t good enough to live on with all the land they can use? Desperation. And desperate people do desperate things.
 
In Kashmir in the Himalayas, marijuana farms which refined pot into hashish, hauled the product over the Khyber Pass by mule train until a road was built in the 1990’s. They found themselves not making enough money so they switched to opium poppies.
 
Who wants to bet that current pot farmers in the USA won’t switch to growing opium when pot becomes legal? Some renters in Truckee, California [at the eastern end of Nevada County] had their hashish catch fire. After a trip to the emergency room for 2nd degree burns, they got booked into county jail. And those are the ones who got caught. It is reasonable that pot farmers will start making hash to reduce bulk and increase selling price, if they have the market for it. But hash isn’t as consistent a money maker as heroin. Heroin is highly addictive, physically addictive. It suppresses the body’s natural endorphin production so when the opiates process out, everything starts to hurt, apparently. Given a few days, the endorphin glands work again, but many heroin junkies can’t stand to wait that long and will do anything to stay high, including lots of violent crime. In Portland Oregon, the arrests for heroin are the highest in the USA, and police officers end up defending themselves or civilians rather frequently. Apparently, the way to come down off a Speed (Meth) binge is to sleepand for that they take heroin. It’s a big problem in Modesto[California] too, or was back when they could still steal cars to pay for it. Maybe not now.
 
Law enforcement is planning how to deal with domestic opium and already tracks heroin over-doses at the emergency room and arrests locally. So far it isn’t local product, but they fear that eventually, lowered price pot will mean the farmers will switch to tar opium or refine heroin for maximum markup. The farmers see themselves as homesteaders, living off the grid by their own rules, but mostly need soap and their clothes are full of holes and their vans are converted into living space. Impressive practical conversions that can still navigate the rutted gravel and dirt roads, and they deal with the sort of remote secret security problems and keep their OPSEC very close to the chest. They are however making and selling drugs. Upping the ante to heroin will be an all too easy next step. And the violence will increase.
 
If you have a neighbor growing pot, and see flashes of bright poppy flowers through the trees, give serious thought to your safety, and whether you want any involvement with that person when you hear shots fired at their place. You may even give some thought to a ballistic barrier between your home and theirs. Just to be safe. Sincerely, – InyoKern

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