Sunday, July 11, 2021

Illegal marijuana farms are booming in Southern California’s Mojave Desert

LAT:

The rise of Mojave Desert pot farming began shortly after California voted to legalize marijuana in 2016. Ever since, black-market growers have flocked to the desert, which offers a near-perfect environment for large-scale farming: endless sunshine, cheap open space and virtually no police. Though desert pot does require enormous amounts of water, growers have discovered that that they can buy or steal all they need.

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Today, the legal pot industry is struggling. As much as 80% of the marijuana sold in California comes from the black market.
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Real estate brokers in the area say city dwellers fleeing urban sprawl, combined with cannabis cultivators, are contributing to a surge in property values.

“We’re seeing five-acre parcels sell for record-high prices of more than $20,000,” said Bryan Wynwood, a real estate broker in Joshua Tree. “But that will likely change once the boom wears off and people start becoming concerned about marijuana grows reducing desirability in their desert paradise.”

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The farms have become so numerous that one outraged resident posted drone footage of one greenhouse after another filling a one-mile stretch of desert in Twentynine Palms.