Southern California breaking news and trends

Swanky Diamond Bar home shelters marijuana farm with hundreds of plants

marijuana

Photo by Alexodus via Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of an upscale area in Diamond Bar were surprised to learn that one house in their neighborhood was the site of a thriving indoor pot farm with more than 1,000 plants, and possibly more than 2,000.

CBS reports that authorities raided the million-dollar home, located on the 24000 block of Highcrest Drive, on Monday night, shutting down the operation and arresting two men.

The plants -- flourishing under grow lights, with filters installed to block the smell from outside -- each had an estimated value of $2,000. Authorities said the operation may have been in place there for three years or longer, with no one the wiser, according to some reports.

Despite those precautions, it was the operation’s high energy usage that eventually did it in: Investigators said they became aware of the pot farm after a worker for Southern California Edison noticed unusually high power readings on a meter at the house, according to CBS.

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Update on panga smugglers: Jettisoned pot valued at more than $1 million

charleschandler/Flickr

Small boats, called pangas, are used in Mexico to fish. They are about 20 feet long, and with two or three outboard motors on back, a smuggler can take a load of up to 20 people far up the coast.

Officials gave an update today on the three alleged drug smugglers seen tossing containers out of their panga boat last night off the Malibu coast: Those containers were actually bales of marijuana, officials said -- 80 in all, with an estimated value of well over $1 million.

Yesterday’s arrests were only the latest in what Coast Guard and Homeland Security officials call a growing trend: Smugglers from Mexico, carrying both drugs and people, are plying the waters farther north along the California coast in an effort to evade stepped-up patrols near the Mexican border.

The 80 bales of pot so far recovered weigh about 20 pounds each, Homeland Security officials said. Since October of last year, authorities have seized almost 16,000 pounds of marijuana from maritime smuggling operations along the coast from San Diego to L.A. counties, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The figures were reported in a wire story posted by the LA Daily News.

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Coast Guard detains three alleged drug smugglers after boat catches on sandbar off Malibu coast

Photo by Michael McCullough via Flickr Creative Commons

Pangas

A sailing tip: Never go out on the water stoned, or you might run aground.

And never go out on the water carrying bags of smuggled marijuana in a panga boat, or you might run aground, then be arrested by the Department of Homeland Security.

That’s more or less what happened Tuesday night, Coast Guard officials say, after a small vessel was seen stuck on a sandbar off the coast of Latigo Beach in Malibu at about 10:30 p.m.

Although reports differ on some of the details, three men were definitely spotted -- indeed, they were filmed, as this NBC report shows -- throwing their cargo overboard before shoving off for deeper waters in an apparent effort to escape Coast Guard officials.

The men were intercepted about two miles offshore, according to KTLA, and arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling. Their jettisoned cargo is believed to be bales of marijuana, and officials said the three men and their panga were from Mexico.

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Automated Orange County marijuana machine aims to mellow critics

Autospense

A patient takes his medicine out of the automated medical marijuana machine

A medical marijuana dispenser created in Orange County hopes to be the cure for what ails the controversial mini-industry.

Autospense, a high-tech vending machine that doles out pot, is the safest, surest, most fiscally-transparent way to issue medical marijuana to patients who qualify under 1996's Proposition 215, say its creators.

Aliso Viejo's The Dispensary Group says that because the Autospense requires a medical marijuana card and a PIN number, and scans the patient's finger for added verification, concerns that the medicine not getting in the proper person's hands should be relieved.

Meanwhile government officials who claim that dispensary bookkeeping is less than exact will be happy to know that every transaction on the Autospense is videotaped, digitally recorded, documented in every way (time, date, patient name, even strain of medication), and locked away in a secure vending cage.

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'420 Day' lights the conversation about marijuana legislation

marijuana

Photo by Alexodus via Flickr Creative Commons

Morgan Fox, the Communications Manager for the Marijuana Policy Project, is surprisingly nonplussed on 420 Day.

While elsewhere, the media merriment surrounding weed's unofficial holiday brings puns, inside jokes, and in some cases, discounts, Fox does admit to KPCC that the day does bring a toke of credibility to his ongoing work on marijuana legislation.

Fox said the attention to drug policy is helpful because when people start talking about legalization they begin to realize "the failure of marijuana prohibition."

In addition to the lighthearted, lightheaded associations with the day, there are also serious "political undertones" that should not be overlooked, Fox explained from his office in Washington D.C.

Currently there are several drug and marijuana-related pieces of potential legislation traveling through California's political pipes. No matter the outcome, having these issues addressed in high level government, means that states are still trying to regulate.

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