Tag Archives: homelessness

Crimes in Marijuana Country: Exploitation, Rape and Murder

Reveal, the Center for Investigative Reporting records riveting stories about the victims of sexual abuse in the Emerald Triangle.

Reveal has an expose of the abuses and the sexual exploitation of workers who go to the Emerald Triangle to find work.  Among the most horrific stories were:

  • a 12-year-old girl given meth to make her work faster. At age 14 she ran away to a Eureka homeless shelter, “only to discover that pimps were using it as a hunting ground.”
  • Another woman fled a local grow scene on foot after the owner started pressuring her for blow jobs and sex.   (Some people like this end up homeless, having no place else to go.)
  • the rape of 22-year-old by a grower twice her age.  The article recounts the difficulty of prosecuting in a region surrounded by secrecy.   Everyone protects the leaders of the pot industry

We previously published a story about the marijuana and the vulnerable street kids.

No one really knows how deep and wide the sex trafficking is in the Emerald Triangle, but it’s clear that “trimmigrants” go there from around the world and many face exploitation and/or abuse.    Law enforcement is spread thin, and those who are abused don’t feel safe reporting incidences.  Reporting a crime may expose an illegal marijuana grow and jeopardize future job opportunities.

However, Hezekiah Allen, leader of a growers association, wrote a letter to dispute this characterization of the marijuana culture.

Murder Mayhem adds to Crimes

Humboldt County, the sparsely populated county of only 135,000, leads the state in cultivation in marijuana.   It’s murder rate has spiked over the past three years.

In 2014, there were 16 murders.  Last year, 15 people died by homicide.  Two men were gunned down at a marijuana grow over the recent Labor Day weekend.   With the death of another victim on September 5, homicide has claimed the lives of 14 people this year.   The frequency of murder and property crimes may be another reason that police don’t spend as much time on sex crimes.

Those who live in Humboldt County frequently cite drug use and fights over marijuana as the source of this violence.   Marijuana is the drug most often linked to crime.  A study showed that 54% of the criminals arrested in Sacramento tested positive for recent marijuana use.

That idea that legalizing marijuana frees up the police to concentrate on more serious crime is purely bogus.   In fact, it’s marijuana use and marijuana cultivation which make it impossible for the police to keep up with crimes and investigate.

Environmental Damage and Homelessness is also Caused by Marijuana Growers

While these crimes go on, Humboldt County’s marijuana boom is destroying a unique redwood forest and drying up the fishing streams.

California has 21 % of the nation’s homeless, but the problem is particularly strong in Humboldt County.  Homelessness grows when “trimmigrants” come from around the world and try to get into the marijuana industry.  Sometimes they’re stiffed, abused and exploited.

There are nearly 1,300 homeless people in southern Humboldt County and the number may triple with the marijuana harvest each fall.

Denver Chamber Reports of Homelessness

A report from the Denver’s Visitor’s Bureau on the impact of legal marijuana to downtown Denver and feedback from conference planners:

“As the marketing organization for the city, VISIT DENVER measures, records and reports hundreds of data points. The attached presentation highlights the safety trends and feedback we receive and closely track from convention and leisure visitors over the span of several years. VISIT DENVER realizes that homelessness is not a crime, and that it is just one component of the many issues having an impact on Denver and surrounding cities. However, it is important to note that visitors often do not recognize or distinguish the differences between panhandlers, travelers, homeless, and others but rather provide overall feedback based on personal safety and sense of security when visiting Denver.

There are several key takeaways from the information provided:

• The downtown environment is the #1 complaint from meeting planners, far surpassing any other categories. The severity of this issue has increased and as of 2014 nearly 50% of meeting planners negatively commented on homeless, youth, panhandling, safety, cleanliness, and drugs including public marijuana consumption.

• Denver ranks very high on walkability, affordability, facilities, and other factors. However, Denver as a “safe city” ranks significantly lower according to interviews with key convention planners conducted by an independent third-party.

• Denver is losing visitors and valuable convention business as a result of these overall safety (or perception of safety) issues. Unfortunately, word is beginning to spread among meeting planners about the safety challenges Denver is facing. As the marketing organization for the city, we fear not being able to brand Denver away from this growing reputation.

VISIT DENVER is committed to solutions that will improve our community for all who live, work and visit Denver. We are happy to share more information or answer any questions you may have.”