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Officials Destroy 10M Pot Plants Masquerading as Hemp

Authorities destroy $1B worth of marijuana
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2019 6:15 PM CST
A marijuana plant in San Luis Obispo, California. Officials seized plants growing in Kern County and destroyed them last month.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

(Newser) – Those 10 million "hemp" plants growing on 459 California acres turned out to not be hemp plants. The Kern County Sheriff's Office received a tip that led deputies to obtain a search warrant for 11 fields around Arvin, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Tests showed the plants' THC levels pushed them well beyond hemp and into marijuana range, CNN reports. "These illicit marijuana gardens were grown under the guise of legitimate hemp production," a sheriff's office statement said. So 10 million marijuana plants, worth about $1 billion on the street, were destroyed.

Kern County banned commercial cannabis production in 2017, per the Los Angeles Times. No one was arrested when investigators shut down the commercial operation on Oct. 25, and officials haven't said whether anyone will be; the investigation isn't over. The FBI took part in the raid, the sheriff's department posted on Facebook. (Thieves can confuse the two, as well.)

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