This is the third installment of a three-part series on marijuana and its relationship to the Fallbrook community, specifically the community’s youth.
How do young people in the Fallbrook area get their hands on marijuana?
It seems that much of the marijuana in Fallbrook comes from home-cultivated outdoor marijuana gardens called “grows” and these sites are increasing.
According to officers assigned to the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation, they seized 67, 725 marijuana plants from outdoor grow sites in 2008.
That number almost doubled in 2009 when Sheriff’s deputies seized 119,560 plants in the Fallbrook area. That means that in 2009 there were nearly 6,832 plants for every square mile in Fallbrook.
Fallbrook’s rural location makes it ideal for growing marijuana.
“We find grows all over the Fallbrook and Rainbow areas,” says Deputy Steve Reed with the narcotics task force. “Most of them are contiguous to areas like avocado and orange orchards - any place they can steal water from legitimate crops. [The illicit growers] tie into the hard water line, bury their line in the brush, and drag it, sometimes up to three miles, to their plants.”
It’s unclear how much of the pot grown on these illegal sites actually makes it into hands of Fallbrook residents.
What is clear is that youth in Fallbrook seem to have no problem obtaining marijuana.
“You can get some weed in less than 30 minutes,” says Deisy Salas, a Fallbrook High School student and member of the Fallbrook Youth Prevention Group. “Everybody knows people who sell it.”
Salas says that friends are the primary source of marijuana for students at the high school. “I don’t know where their friends get it from.” Salas says she has never personally seen anyone smoking marijuana on the school campus.
“A lot of people do it, but no one wants to tell on their friends and get them in trouble. They don’t want to be the tattletale.”
Salas believes that school officials need to do more.
“Sometimes the police dogs sniff around the school but that’s not enough,” she says. “Students smoke weed on my bus. Everyone can smell it.”
The presence of these illegal grow sites is a concern for Robert Riedel, owner of Mother Earth Alternative Healing, which was Fallbrook’s only known medical marijuana shop, forced to close its doors in February.
“The black market doesn’t ask for identification,” says Riedel. “They don’t care how old their customers are. Teenagers shouldn’t have access to marijuana.”
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