Originally reported June 25th 1998 in the Eureka Times Standard, a raid by the DEA in conjunction with the now defunct Humboldt County Drug Enforcement Unit netted 12,448 cannabis plants. Most interesting, the grow – located on a ridge near Berry Summit – was disguised to look like a family home.
Outside, planter boxes with fake flowers hung beneath fake windows, children’s toys and a trampoline strewn throughout the yard, and balconies with fake ornamental trees. However, inside, no rooms, no kitchen, no bathrooms, no windows, just three stories (nursery upstairs) with 250 (what appear to be) thousand watt lights hung over raised beds of 9,594 plants – in an adjacent building another 30 lights and 2,854 plants. The whole facility power by a pick up truck sized 125-kilowatt diesel generator – enough to “easily power a whole neighborhood” as Sheriff Steve Knight said. As always seems the case – whether fact or police generated – the generator was leaking fuel into a nearby creek.
Knight stated that authorities became suspicious of the building after 5,000 plants were discovered on nearby Forest Service land the previous year. A previous helicopter patrol gave authorities the evidence they needed for a search warrant but no details were divulged.
Knight disclosed his thoughts on the motive for growing indoors. He said the reason the facility had been constructed was due to “pressure [authorities] put on outdoor [operations].” He said growers “are going indoors.”
In fact during this time, growers were moving indoors largely due to the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting or CAMP as it is commonly known. This federally funded campaign lasted decades and, some say, still continues today under a different name.
As Christian Parenti – a well know investigative journalist, academic, and author – put it “CAMP [was] an annual paramilitary occupation of Northern California’s Humboldt and Mendocino Counties… beginning in late summer harvest seasons… an onslaught of helicopters, checkpoints, warrantless house to house searches, and massive operational sweeps by armed drug warriors… around Eureka and Fort Bragg as if they were rebel infested back country of El Salvador.”
Its these tactics adopted by enforcement that drove cannabis growers indoors and gave rise to “diesel dopers,” as those running these large indoor facilities were know in the community. Scattered outdoor mom and pop plots gave way to the emergence of large scale disguised indoor operations. The large diesel generators needed to power these facilities is what gave diesel dopers their name. Most in the cannabis community thought negatively of diesel growers because their large grows hurt the environment and price per pound.
One must ponder the role of cannabis enforcement and its implications upon our community and environment. How does cannabis enforcement affect the means of production of cannabis, and how does that affect our community. As cannabis normalizes, one size fits all heavy-handed enforcement of cannabis seems obsolete. So much wasted resource on both sides – growers and police included. An entire house used to grow cannabis inside in prime outdoor climate and all the wasted taxpayers money to raid it – what a waste. The cops-and-robbers game of whack- a-mole seems to have hurt our community more than benefit it. This is why the war-on-cannabis was and is a failure.
*The data base of articles used to write this story was provided via the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research