When California declared war on cannabis growers and called in the army

Driving through Humboldt County last winter, I heard radio ads for help harvesting and selling cannabis crops, as well as for products geared toward commercial cultivation. But less than 40 years ago, the same area was one of the main battlefields of California’s war on pot growers.

By the late 1960s, the three counties of the Emerald Triangle had developed a reputation for growing a high-quality product. Demand grew rapidly, and prices skyrocketed, fueling greater production. In 1983, after several unsuccessful attempts to cut down production, the state started the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP.

A search in the Chronicle archive shows decades-old photos of raids in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, backlash from local communities and more recent coverage on why CAMP is still operating today. On July 21, 1983, Attorney General John Van de Kamp announced a coordinated campaign using federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to raid marijuana grows in more than a dozen California counties.

“We’re not here today to make great sweeping promises that all marijuana planting will be eradicated in Northern California this year,” Van de Kamp said. “But this is a serious effort,” he added, explaining the federal Drug Enforcement Administration would use spy planes to map forested, remote regions to target the raids.

Read more and check out the photo gallery at sfchronicle.com

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