Trinity County Sheriff’s Office
Omar Brown was interviewed during an abatement. We spoke while recently cut down marijuana plants were buried. These plants belonged to Angie, you can read her story here.
Do you think abatement is fair?
Yes, and you know part of the reason it seems so unfair to people, and the reason we’re having to abate 350 plants, is because of the county’s inaction over the last 5 -10 years. It’s gotten to this point where these people have been, in a way, encouraged on some level to do this. To the level that they’re doing it. If they knew the county was going to come take their plants if they grew more than twelve…but the county hasn’t done anything for ten years.
So this woman [….], whose plants you just took, was she upset?
Oh yeah, she was upset—‘we’re taking her medicine’ and stuff like that. But you know she’s got 350 plants, and there’s no way a person can physically consume two, let alone 350.
Do you think it was her income then?
Yes, it’s definitely an income.
“You choose an illegal operation, or whatever you want to call it. If that is your income then you deal with the consequences. I am sympathetic to the overall economy, you know it’s hard for people to make it, but that doesn’t mean you have to do things that are illegal.”
Do you feel sympathetic to her having lost her income?
No, I mean it’s a rough economy and people try and do what they can to make it. But it’s illegal. You choose an illegal operation, or whatever you want to call it. If that is your income then you deal with the consequences. I am sympathetic to the overall economy, you know it’s hard for people to make it, but that doesn’t mean you have to do things that are illegal.
I do think there aren’t a lot of options here in this county.
There aren’t that many options. I am sympathetic to that, but not to the fact that she got caught. It’s a cookie jar, all this marijuana growing is a cookie jar, and there’s a lot of cookies in there, and there’s not a lot of people watching the cookie jar. So it’s easy to get away with getting a cookie, but when you get caught, you get caught. And she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
So many people are farming, what do you think that says about their options?
Well that says a lot about the economy, and about the county’s lack of action in the past. But it’s still these peoples’ choice. The median has gotten to be that (referring to abated plants) size, in other words there are big grows and small grows, but the average is 150-200 plants. We can’t do search warrants on everything that size, and so that’s why we need to start on the abating process. We’re so far behind, if we had done this ten years ago we would be abating 36 plant grows.
“It’s a cookie jar, all this marijuana growing is a cookie jar, and there’s a lot of cookies in there, and there’s not a lot of people watching the cookie jar. So it’s easy to get away with getting a cookie, but when you get caught, you get caught.”
How do you decide who to prioritize?
I don’t. It’s how it falls.
Like who you’re able to get evidence on, and who people complain about? That kind of thing?
What happens–what’s brought across my desk for one reason or another– I don’t prioritize. I would never be able to get anything done. Because why would I do a 500 plant grow when I could do a 650 plant grow, you know, so then why would I do that when there could be an 800 plant grow?
Would you be more likely to go after people who are doing other illegal activities, like also making opium, things like that?
If there were anything like that, yes. But most of the time this doesn’t go with opium or anything else. People that want to traffic drugs aren’t going to start trafficking marijuana and then get into other things. They are going to start trafficking (inaudible) so there are people who traffic cocaine, marijuana, opium, LSD, whatever they can…
So you don’t think that growing pot is a first step to other things (illegal activities)?
No, growing pot is just something that people do if they want to do it. It is a second step in that I know some people that have gone to this from the harder drugs like meth and cocaine. So they want to stop getting high, but they don’t want to go cold turkey so they smoke.
Do you think the amount of marijuana being farmed in the county, in the way it’s being farmed, is damaging?
Absolutely. There are aquifers that are being drained that won’t be replenished. And I see the destruction they do out in the forest. People buy private property, and cut the trees out, and grow where they can in the soil for two or three years and until they kill it (the soil)… and that’s terrible. And it shouldn’t be legalized.
There’s a gold rush mentality. People rape the land. They are not sustenance farmers like they claim to be. They are gold panners; they are in it for the ‘get rich quick while we can until we ruin this.’ And they know full well they’re ruining it for everybody. So as far as that effect on a society, that’s not good. But if you get the people who just grow a little bit, and take pride in what they grow, and only grow a few plants, and they’re in it for the long run and improving their land, and have a farming attitude rather than a gold rush attitude, it’s socially not bad.