California voters legalized cannabis last decade. So why is the illegal market more successful than ever?

California voters legalized cannabis last decade. So why is the illegal market more successful than ever?
Covelo, California cannabis

Cannabis hoop houses stand behind a tall fence across from Our Lady Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Chapel in Covelo, Calif.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

California voters legalized cannabis in 2016, which was supposed to solve much of the violence and environmental wreckage associated with the drug’s illegal trade. But that hasn’t happened. Instead, the reality of legal weed in California is huge illegal grows, violence, worker exploitation and even deaths.

Inside California’s famed “Emerald Triangle,” a region north of San Francisco known for its weed, there are an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 illegal cannabis farms in just one of the three counties that make up the triangle alone. The under-the-radar cultivation is causing big problems for once-peaceful communities. Today, we get into the issues caused by illegal cultivation. Read the full transcript here.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times investigative reporter Paige St. John

More reading:

Legal Weed, Broken Promises: A Times series on the fallout of legal pot in California

Nobody knows how widespread illegal cannabis grows are in California. So we mapped them

The reality of legal weed in California: Huge illegal grows, violence, worker exploitation and deaths

About The Times

“The Times” is produced by Shannon Lin, Denise Guerra, Kasia Brousalian, David Toledo and Ashlea Brown. Our editorial assistants are Madalyn Amato and Carlos De Loera. Our engineers are Mario Diaz, Mark Nieto and Mike Heflin. Our editor is Kinsee Morlan. Our executive producers are Jazmin Aguilera, Heba Elorbany

and Shani Hilton. And our theme music is by Andrew Eapen.


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