Massive pot grows busted in the North Valley

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Merced County Sheriff's deputies are pulling the plants and hauling illegal marijuana grows by the truckload.

Since recreational marijuana became legal, deputies say they see a spike in illegal grows.

Deputy Darryl Allen said their efforts are focused.

"We are going after the people growing thousands of plants."

This year alone, the Sheriff's Office eradication team has already destroyed more than 80,000 plants. That's triple the number they seized in 2015 altogether. They've also found a little more than 70 guns.

They found more than 2,000 plants in homes along just one street in Winton on Friday.

Sgt. Ray Framstad says many of the growers are being brought in from other states or countries.

"We're finding a lot of marijuana grows but the commercial or the cartel grows we see are grown differently. When find them, they're very large."

However, for Sister Kate Meeusen, the plant means a thriving business.

She's the owner of Sisters of the Valley which makes CBD (cannabidiol) products and says the county should do away with the six plant policy.

Still, she says she supports busts on the cartel grows.

"I send them my blessing for taking our anyone who's not paying taxes, and who are doing commerce on this, because the whole reason the medicine is here for us, is to create taxes for poor, ag communities.

Deputies are reminding folks that there is a policy in place and from the streets to the skies they're keeping their eyes open to make sure people follow the rules.
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