Is home grown marijuana on the rise?

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - On Tuesday, an elaborate indoor marijuana growing operation is discovered. Four days later, thousands of marijuana plants are found in woods surrounded by secluded work camps.

Is the home grown marijuana which was so popular in the 70's and 80's coming back...or did it ever really go away?

"I don't know if it ever completely went away. I do think we're seeing a resurgence of it," Thomas Kerss, Nacogdoches County sheriff said.

In year's past foresters often came up on hidden growths or it was detected by air. Neither happen so much any more.

"It's never happened to me or any of my guys here that I know of," John Boyett, district forester for the Texas Forest Service said. "What we're cautioned more about is the meth labs."

Marijuana is the gateway drug to meth and harder drugs. It's still widely used, but sources primarily originate from Mexico. These days home grown may come with less hassles.

"There has been increased border security efforts," noted the sheriff. "Also, California has seen an increase of marijuana being grown in national forests and timber lands."

Twenty to 30 years ago, growers were primarily the users. Today, it's more organized.

"I don't believe for a minute that 20, 25 people just decided to let's move from Mexico over to the United States and go set up some labor camps in East Texas," Kerss said, referring to the "labor camps" found this weekend in a forested area off of FM 225.  "That's going to be a very planned out and methodical approach."

If the trend continues the impact can be substantial to local law enforcement agencies. State drug task forces no longer exist.

Authorities suggest to landowners, especially absentee landowners, to periodically check their properties. This discourages illegal activity. It's best to notify authorities if and when anything suspicious is discovered. Landowners should never approach anything that appears to be an illegal drug operation.

©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.