ANZA, CALIF. — Like the pungent aroma of the fall’s cannabis harvest, feuds over how to confront the explosion of unlicensed marijuana grows are nearly unavoidable in this remote Southern California valley.
Disagreements in this close-knit community have devolved into what one grower calls a “Hatfield-and-McCoy reality,” where residents call law enforcement on their neighbors, inciting a culture war of sorts, spawning fights over policing, rural life, water and even immigration.
Anza Valley cannabis growers are protesting the county’s permitting system. They contend it excludes small growers and hinders businesses that could buoy this economically depressed region where median income is about $19,000.
In this 256-square-mile region, where police response times have historically been longer than 45 minutes, law enforcement has recently expanded its presence and initiated an epic crackdown on hundreds of unlicensed grows.
Since then, a debate has raged among Anza Valley residents who rely on the plant for their livelihoods and those who say marijuana is responsible for a laundry list of negatives including: the pervasive odor and a perceived dangerous crime spike that threatens their quality of life. — The Desert Sun