Drug trade is dangerous territory for law enforcement officers who target growing operations

Our public lands contain an amazing confederation of some of the very best, most scenic locations that this country has to offer. 

They are visited by an incredible assortment of people, and are utilized in a wide variety of activities. Hunting, fishing, camping and viewing no doubt lead the list in most areas, but photographers, naturalists and any number of other permitted or “permissible” activities must be included in that same list.

But there are other individuals that visit public lands with a different purpose in mind. These individuals pose severe threats to anyone they feel is a potential threat to themselves or their nefarious activities. They do not hesitate to commit egregious environmental crimes and widespread wildlife destruction if they feel that it threatens their “livelihood.” 

They are the drug dealers and drug growers.

California is a good example. Its problems with drug growers are so numerous and so widespread that it is hard for people who do not actually live there to comprehend. And that state has responded by creating a Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET). 

Unfortunately, that entire team is comprised of state game wardens, an organization that is already grossly understaffed. But their drug growing problems are so pervasive that they had little if any choice.

Most people simply cannot comprehend the magnitude of this problem. The MET team has been in operation for the last three and a half years. Over that time period the team has gone on 583 missions, eradicated 2.1 million poisoned marijuana plants, arrested 745 armed felons, confiscated 433 illegal firearms, removed 335 tons of grow waste, fertilizers, toxic poisons and pesticides, removed 1.65 million feet (311 miles) of black plastic irrigation pipe and removed 614 illegal dams. 

And as a side note, their lifesaving K-9 Phebe has 114 physical apprehensions in the last three years and over 700 additional arrests on armed and dangerous felons over her 11 year career.

But this problem is not limited to California. As of 2015 at least 21 states and 67 national forests have also reported finding large trespass marijuana grow sites tended by organized crime. Every one of these spots posses a serious danger to any recreationer unwittingly passing through or even near the edge of a grow. 

In addition to illegal firearms for the protection of their illegal crop, these outlaws also typically use large volumes of illegal pesticides and fertilizers that poison water sources and consume considerable water that would otherwise be used by farmers and wildlife.

And as an important side note, FBI data proves that game wardens are now seven times more likely to be assaulted with a deadly weapon than a police officer or deputy sheriff. 

Is there an answer to this growing (no pun intended) problem? In light of more and more states either legalizing or strongly considering legalizing pot, the demand will almost certainly continue to increase. The illicit drug growers and dealers will be more than happy to grow as much pot as the public demands.

Let’s face facts here. The pot problem is never going to go away. Therefore the only viable solution I can see is to allow those states that have made the purchase and possession of pot legal to also make the growing of marijuana legal. They can then license the farms and individuals that do the growing, and tax all of it accordingly. 

But I remain open to any and all suggestions. If anyone has a better idea, drop me a note.

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When I received my “Pistol Permit” I was told that it was a one-time thing. I would never again have to do anything except have guns that I sold or otherwise disposed of removed from my permit or guns that I may wish to purchase added to it. 

That was simple enough, especially since I didn’t have the funds necessary to challenge the constitutionality of the Sullivan Act in any Federal court.

Then came the NY SAFE Act of 2013 (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act). It was passed in the dark of night, along with a “Message of Necessity” to “legally” avoid any debate. 

Governor Cuomo claimed loud and long that this piece of legislation would bolster the fight against crime, but the reality is to legally harass and punish honest, law abiding citizens while doing nothing to either fight or prevent crime (especially since criminals do not register their illegal guns).

There is a codicil contained in the SAFE Act that requires all pistol permit holders to recertify their permits every five years. Currently, that requirement only applies to those permits originally issued before January 15, 2013. The deadline to submit their recertification is January 31, 2018. All permits issued on or after January 15, 2013, then the deadline to recertify is five years after the date the permit was issued.

There are several potential problems associated with this edict. It is the permit holder’s responsibility to recertify his or her permit whether he or she receives a notification letter or not. And if you fail to recertify your permit prior to the required date, you will have all of your firearms, not just your handguns, confiscated (without any recourse on your part) by the NY State Police.

In order to recertify a pistol permit, it is necessary to provide “accurate and timely information in the required fields” on the computer form. Or, you can obtain a paper form from any state police headquarters. Then you must have both your pistol permit and your New York State Driver License or Non-Driver Identification. Providing specific information from both of these documents is necessary. 

Right now there is no plan to notify license holders. You have to remember to do this on your own every 5 years. Upon completion of the certification procedure, you will be given your next “due date.” 

I guess we should expect dictates like this one just as long as we continue to “elect” liberal leaders with urban mindsets.

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Writer. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.net.