Is the sheriff illegally dumping pot in TNF?

A pair of mountain bikers discovered a pile of marijuana in the Tahoe National Forest near Pioneer Trail on Monday, an area frequented by the youth we’re trying to protect from drugs. It turns out the pot was dumped there by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

Ignoring federal Drug Enforcement Administration protocol that requires burial and apparently unwilling to venture off the beaten path, deputies supposedly mixed the confiscated pot with wood chips and other vegetation to make it unusable. Sheriff Keith Royal insisted the pot couldn’t be consumed, but a reporter for The Union wrote there was no vegetation in the marijuana, and multiple buds could be used if dried. The sheriff dispatched a crew Tuesday to bury the pile.

Did this action constitute illegal dumping in the Tahoe National Forest?

Did the sheriff's office commit a federal offense?

Did the sheriff’s office commit a federal offense?

A spokeswoman for TNF pleaded ignorance, telling The Union “we lack important details about this specific situation.” Perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento will be more inquisitive.

Regardless of the legality of the sheriff’s disposal methods, this Keystone Cops operation is an example of what happens during harvest season in California’s Emerald Triangle, a time loop that repeats itself year after year.

In this Kubuki theater drama, the sheriff’s office can be counted on to seize sizable amounts of marijuana and put some bad guys in jail. Will the local supply of marijuana shrink significantly? No. Will the street price skyrocket? No. Will the growers suddenly disappear? Are you kidding? Can we cancel the drug dog patrols at our high schools? I don’t think so.

Almost 42 years after President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs and the expenditure of more than $1 trillion, the U.S. is still the most lucrative drug market in the world. We keep trying to cut-off the supply and put the bad guys in prison while giving lip service to prevention and treatment, but nothing really changes. We have achieved Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Our state legislators, afraid to look soft on crime, refuse to pass legislation that will put sensible controls on personal and medical use of weed, so we get poorly written initiatives like Proposition 215.

Almost 17 years after the initiative passed, we are still arguing over what constitutes proper implementation of the law. If Americans for Safe Access–Nevada County can collect enough signatures to qualify its medical marijuana cultivation measure for the ballot, Nevada County will spend a six-figure sum on a special election to continue the argument.

It’s past time for the state Legislature to pass a law that spells out the sensible personal use of marijuana, particularly now that the U.S. Department of Justice won’t challenge laws recently passed in Washington and Colorado. If those two states can do it, so can the Golden State.

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