When a 43-year-old mother from San Bernardino was questioned in connection to a considerable grow operation, the story went viral around the world. Dubbed a drug “queen-pin,” the woman is alleged to have used the multimillion dollars in profit from a multi-building marijuana grow house to support a lavish lifestyle in Pacific Palisades – maybe. At this time, she has not been charged or arrested for any crimes
San Bernardino police received several complaints about an “empty” warehouse and then a tip stating that marijuana was being grown in the building. When they investigated, they found that the so-called “empty” building was creating a $67,000 electric bill each month and staged a raid.
Police were shocked at the sophistication of the operation. Calling it a “fortress,” law enforcement described finding a huge main building protected by surveillance cameras, fortified doors, and surrounded by a 12-foot rolling metal fence. Inside the four-story building, more than 24,000 plants were found stacked close together on wood tables, warmed by heat lamps and watered with an irrigation system.
In total, 18,000 pounds of marijuana was seized at three separate properties owned by the Pacific Palisades woman brought in for questioning.
Lieutenant Mike Madden is with the San Bernardino police. He says: “In my 26 years, it was the biggest grow that I’ve ever seen. There were all different rooms for different processes and hydration, filtration and ventilation. It was pretty extensive.
“Marijuana has been legalized, but there are stringent requirements. It’s not that you just get to set up shop where you want to set up.”
Legal with Limits
Just as alcohol is available for sale with limitations and there are certain requirements for getting and maintaining a prescription for painkillers or sedatives, there are also restrictions on the use of marijuana in California, even as the January 1 date of legal access to recreational marijuana approaches. There are limits on:
- How old you must be to buy products that contain THC
- How much THC can be in servings of marijuana edibles
- How long shops that sell marijuana can be open
- How to package marijuana products in such a way that they are child resistant
- How to advertise only to audiences that are reasonably expected to be comprised mostly of people who are over the age of 21
These regulations are put into place to protect young people and children from exposure to these substances. Studies show that early use of marijuana in any context can greatly increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder in adulthood, according to a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
It should be expected, however, that more limits will come over the next few years. As Californians discover in practice what it means to live in a society that has steady and legal access to marijuana and alcohol at the same time, there will undoubtedly be undesired consequences that were unexpected. For example, it is likely that the already high rates of drugged driving will continue to increase as people begin to mix alcohol and marijuana when they are out for a night on the town. As with any mind-altering substances that are mixed (including prescription drugs), the end result can be a level of intoxication that is overwhelming more rapidly than the user expects – sometimes with disastrous results. Incidents of medical emergency, overdose, and/or accident under the influence that occur as a result of marijuana intoxication are expected to rise in California in 2018.
From Abuse to Disorder
It is estimated that about 30 percent of people who use marijuana are living with some type of substance use disorder as a result. Stepping over the line from marijuana use to marijuana abuse or addiction is not always a definable moment. However, for family members who are concerned about their loved one’s use of substances, red flags can include:
- Operating a car while under the influence of marijuana
- Choosing to buy marijuana rather than pay bills
- Attempting to take care of children, elderly parents, or special needs family members while under the influence
- Using marijuana before going to work or while on the job
- Calling use of the drug “medicinal” in order to justify any of the above choices
The Gift of Recovery
If your loved one is struggling as a result of marijuana use and abuse, is this the year you give them the gift of recovery? Is it time to learn more about available treatment options for those who are living with a marijuana use disorder?