Excerpted from the (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat
The problem is not just that pot growers are getting more brazen, as evidenced by the large pot farm discovered near the Sonoma County landfill last week.
The problem is that growers are getting more aggressive in defending their crops, creating growing safety concerns for landowners, hikers and law enforcement. Those exploring remote areas, even in state and local parks, should use caution.
Sonoma County law enforcement officials are encountering an unparalleled level of violence in their marijuana eradication efforts. Many blame it on the influence of Mexican drug cartels, which are getting more aggressive about protecting their wares.
As a result, five suspected marijuana growers have been shot and killed in four Northern California counties this summer. One person was killed during a raid in Mendocino County 10 days ago. The operation involved more than 60 officers and resulted in four arrests and the destruction of 2,400 marijuana plants.
It's not just a problem of remote areas. Other recent examples:
Sonoma County deputies found a garden of more than 350 marijuana plants hidden behind a plywood fence near the county landfill on Wednesday.
U.S. Forest Service workers recently discovered that 15 large redwood trees on a wooded section of Korbel Winery in Guerneville had been cut down to make way for a marijuana-growing operation. The tenders of the small pot farm had also dammed a nearby creek.
On Aug. 9, an Occidental landowner encountered an armed man on his property. Deputies and service dogs found 216 marijuana plants and a campsite. The suspect was not found.
Employees at a 400-acre church camp west of Lake Sonoma began warning campers to stay close to camp and to stay off of hiking trails because of risks from illegal pot farms in the area.
On Aug. 15, five deer hunters on a popular Cow Mountain trail in Mendocino County encountered armed marijuana growers who threatened them and ordered them to stay away.
We don't blame property owners and others weary of this nonsense. Nobody should be threatened hiking in a state park let alone walking on their own property. Nevertheless, weapons should be left at home. The best response is to call 911. Those who vow to combat this problem by arming themselves only run the risk of adding to the bloodshed.
The solution to this problem is not more violence.