Siskiyou Co. black market marijuana: Part one

Siskiyou Co., Calif — Siskiyou county has been struggling with massive illegal marijuana grows for years, even decades. Recently, the Sheriff’s Office has dedicated an entire team to the task of eradicating the illicit plants. This year alone, the sheriff’s office said they’ve seized over one billion dollars worth of illegal marijuana.

Sergeant Mike Gilley leads the team into several grows a week, well prepared and well armed.

“This is not a medicinal garden,” Sgt. Gilley said. “This is a money garden.”

Because of that, Sergeant Gilley said the plants have to go. But before the clean up starts, there’s a process the team has to go through.

“We document everything initially, and then before the eradication team comes in,” Sgt. Gilley said.

“How many plants do you think is in this area?” Natalie Weber asked.

“Well, you know, typically these sites, we’ve historically been running into is 99, I’ll be surprised if that’s not what’s here,” Sgt. Gilley said.

As it turns out, that is what was here at this site. Each of the 17 sites the team raided held at least 99 plants.

“This is typical of what we see, the way it’s set up, and the growing, the products you use,” Sgt. Gilley said.

By the end of the day, more than 1,400 had been cut down. Even the ones with posted papers referencing medical licenses were taken out.

“The way the ordinance is set up now, you can only have one per parcel,” Sgt. Gilley said.

That means one medical license per grow, or 12 plants per property. Some of these are labeled — our NBC5 cameras even found one planter marked ‘Medford.’ But Sergeant Gilley said it’s unlikely that’s where the buds are truly going.

“I’m not sure why they named all these plants, and how you would keep them separated,” Sgt. Gilley said. “It would be a really time consuming to segregate them out by what city they’re going to.”

Some of the plants had already been cut, and were being processed.

“Once they get to the maturity level drying, then they’ll trim the bud off and package it for distribution and shipping,” Sgt. Gilley said. “$3,500 per plant.”

“That’s West coast price,” Sgt. Gilley said.

Sgt. Gilley said most of the time, the plants are shipped to the East coast, where they’re sold for much more.

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