Pot growers like Idaho wilds

Authorities are busting an increasing number of marijuana plots in remote areas-

My opinion. Maybe one good thing will come out of the recession . . . an end to the “war on drugs” and all the economic, social, and physical damage it has caused. I’m glad to see some drug users are now being released from prison because there isn’t enough money to keep them there.

In the meantime you do have to be careful in the backcountry in seldom traveled places where there is water,  not too high elevation, and soil deep enough to grow marijuana.  Pot plantations are a lot more common in places like  SW Oregon and northern California than Idaho. Essentially all public officials in the northern California counties have found they need to make peace with what has become a  significant part of their economy.

Pot growers in Idaho backcountry. By Kay Moeller. Idaho Statesman.

I do think the increase in backcountry growing is mostly due to the recession. Some people who can’t find a job or one they see as acceptable, probably see growing as a profitable alternative to the economic  system that threw them out of work.







  1. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, these days almost all major back country grows are sponsored and controlled by Mexican drug cartels. The “workers” are almost without exception linked to those cartels and act with the same nastiness reflected in the news reports from down south. They were here before the recession and are not moving over to let some out of work little guy build the family fortune in the hemp business. I don’t doubt that a few recession victims have begun to move in that direction, but they stand a strong chance of getting shot at or snitched off by the competition.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think you are generally right MikePost, but I think in more marginal growing areas like Idaho, there might be entrepreneurs.

    Regarding the Mexican drug cartels, they have won an almost total victory. They probably pump a lot of money to American politicians to make sure drugs stay illegal.

  3. Ryan Avatar

    Here is an exerpt from a news article on a CA fire started by pot growers on accident.

    Huge Santa Barbara County wildfire caused by marijuana farm; suspects at large in forest
    August 16, 2009 | 8:26 am

    A fire that has burned more than 75,000 acres in Santa Barbara County over the last week was started in an illegal marijuana growing area operated by a Mexican drug organization, authorities said.

    Authorities said they confirmed that the blaze, which is burning out of control, started in a cooking area of the pot farm. They believe those responsible are still in the forest area trying leave the forest by foot.
    “The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit has confirmed that the camp at the origin of the fire was an illegal marijuana operation believed to be run by a Mexican national drug organization,” according to a statement from the Los Padres National Forest. “The Narcotics Unit has been working in the area within the last month eradicating other nearby marijuana cultivation sites.”

    The location of those who ran the pot farm isn’t known, but forest officials warn “not to approach anyone who looks suspicious but to instead contact the nearest law enforcement agency.”

    The fire, known as the La Brea fire, is now 25% contained. Vicki Collins, a fire information spokeswoman at Los Padres, said that although the La Brea fire was only 10% contained by Friday night, firefighters successfully charred some lines in front of the fire in the Tepusquet Canyon area, depriving the blaze of new fuel.

    Here is a link from a recent bust in Oregon.


  4. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Actually cannabis for the purpose of getting loaded, or high, is not hemp. Industrial Hemp has many wonderful uses, one use is paper products. If we were farming industrial hemp, we could stop chopping down trees for paper. I eat shelled hemp seeds often grown in Canada, Nutiva sells them. Our Constitution and other important documents are on hemp paper. http:www.jackherer.com Industrial hemp has no value as a product for smoking. Unfortunately prohibition of the drug variety Cannabis included industrial hemp. I my opinion this valuable industrial product should legalized in the states.

  5. jerryB Avatar

    SR25Stoner………We agree on something!!! I should have picked up on “Stoner”
    Just purchased 3 hemp dog collars today. There are so many uses……clothing, shoes, paper, rope, etc.
    .we could save lots of trees and growing hemp instead of cotton would reduce pesticide use.

  6. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Well the SR25Stoner is a weapon I used in the past.

    The thing that I find interesting concerning industrial hemp is the bio mass comparisons, for example when corn was or is the hot item for fuel use, so we have science which tells us hemp produces four to five tons more bio mass per acre than corn.

    So what is the difference between alfalfa and hemp? It will be huge, so if hemp were brought forth again, then cattle men would not need public grass, they would have and abundance of better feed all around, and healthier meats as the hemp has the right combination of omega 6 omega 3 .

    And hemp grows faster, and ground not used for corn or alfalfa due to being to arid will produce hemp.. Not to mention the many other uses of the product, good for public lands, ranchers, farmers, cattle, wolves, and big game.. Plus the economy could use the boost..

    This combined with the more holistic approach of being implemented in various nations, including this one which is proper cattle movements and rotations, we see a way out of this fight, possibly with a few other modifications.. who knows, I’m always looking for peaceful solutions to problems..

  7. jerryB Avatar

    I’d also like to see an effort to grow and use more bamboo. Before moving to Montana, I had an organic orchard in Wa. State. Grew mainly Asian Pears, apples and a few chestnuts. Started experimenting with different bamboo varieties and was amazed how quickly it grew with practically no care. That’s another crop with a wide variety of uses and it is prolific, in fact containing it can be a problem. It’s also another crop requiring no pesticides.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    SR25Stoner gives a good example of yet another unrecognized cost (this time in the form of an opportunity foregone) as a result of the prohibition of marijuana — in this case just plain THC-less hemp.

    I’d like to hear more, being skeptical that the benefit could be that huge. But what if it was even half as much?

  9. mikepost Avatar

    The cynic in me says that if hemp were that useful, that potentially profitable and that benign, the mercenary business intrests in this country would have successfully lobbied to have it legalized for commercial farming. The free enterprise system has its dark side but turning away from profitable opportunities is not one of them. Also, we do not see major hemp farming in other unrestricted countries which could support it. It just seems like one of those, dare I say it, pipe dreams that will dissipate when the smoke clears…

  10. SR25Stoner Avatar


    Well then hop right on over to Jack Herer’s website http://www.jackherer.com and take him up on his $100,000 challenge to prove their science wrong.

    ” If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees paper and construction were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the Greenhouse Effect and stop deforestation;

    Then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the worlds paper and textiles; meet all of the worlds transportation, industrial and home energy needs, while simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil, and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time.

    And that substance is the same one that did it all before, Industrial does not go in your pipe to be smoked Hemp..”

    Jack has been running this challenge for over two decades, so hop to it Mike. ha ha.

  11. SR25Stoner Avatar

    I’ve seen and actually use many of these products, excepting of course the smoking of any products as I disagree with inhaling smoke. But the hemp oil and the seeds are very healthy nutritious products.

    The story of Randolph Hearst and Pierre Dupont proves why these corporate tycoons wished to ruin the hemp industry simply because they wished to delete hemp as competition for their paper industry as well as the chemical process invented by Dupont to turn wood into paper. Not uncommon for one industry to erase another industrial competitor when billions are involved, right or wrong regardless.

  12. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    Mike makes a really valid point, if it is so great, why are other countries not using it?

  13. Lynne Stone Avatar

    Two of the pot growing operations were near Fairfield, Idaho, inc. one somewhere in Willow Creek (according to newspaper reports). That’s where the Soldier Mt Pack was this Spring and Summer. Now all six pups are dead. They were found a few miles from Willow Creek. Can anyone come up with something used in a large scale pot growing that would kill wolf pups?

  14. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    I am thinking if there really is $$$ in it, the products are that marketable, and the technology is not proprietary, or even if it is, there would be a quick entry into the hemp products field. Startup money has been flocking to biofuels so fast you can’t keep track of it, and it seems to be disappointing investors in the short term. There is investment money waiting on the sidelines. looking for the right opportunity, and now is the time.

    Grow operations
    I know a number of people in law enforcement throughout the West. Few places with concealment capability, sunshine, good soil/water and a long hot growing season are spared from grow operations, anymore. The Forest Service, working with local sheriff departments in ID, OR and WA certainly get their share of headaches,

    It seems to be everywhere and on an ever larger scale because of an available workforce (most of what I haves seen reported is illegals, but as Ralph points out entrepeneurs, as well). It is happening in wilderness, national parks, Indian reservations, or most recently in SW Washington state in the middle of a poplar plantation (fast growing poplar is used for paper pulp). A sizeable grow operation east of Walla Walla with 70,000 plants was discovered in late July with a street value of over $200 million. The illegals tending it were apprehended and caught. Cartel links are still being explored.

    The large and secretive Yakama Indian Reservation to the east of Mount Adams every year is the site of large raids, with the assistance of the FBI, WA State Patrol, and Indian police. Cartel links, and Southern California gang/drug distribution network ties to the Yakima Valley are well recognized.

    Drug distribution and growing are a far topic from wolves. The fact that there have been over 13,000 people killed in Mexico over the last year, double the number from the previous year, directly related to the drug cartel intimidation and wars, corrupt government, high profit in drugs, and maybe even an aire of economic dispair. Unfortunately, it puts the worldly signficance of our environmental issue with wolves into perspective.

  15. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Here is and excerpt from this link answering the question concerning countries use or none use of Industrial hemp, which once again I will say is not the same plant being smoked for pleasure or pain. The drug cartels only want the female plants, the industrial plant is the male plant, which is not a popular drug plant at all, I believe this product can be used to influence ranchers and farmers that they do not need public grass in the future. Just my perspective.

    Countries Growing Industrial Hemp Today

    The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production. Below is a list of other countries that are more rational when it comes to hemp policy and allowing a God given plant to be grown.

    AUSTRALIA began research trials in Tasmania in 1995. Victoria commercial production since 1998. New South Wales has research. In 2002, Queensland began production. Western Australia licensed crops in 2004.

    AUSTRIA has a hemp industry including production of hemp seed oil, medicinals and Hanf magazine.

    CANADA started to license research crops in 1994. In addition to crops for fiber, one seed crop was licensed in 1995. Many acres were planted in 1997. Licenses for commercial agriculture saw thousands of acres planted in 1998. 30,000 acres were planted in 1999. In 2000, due to speculative investing, 12,250 acres were sown. In 2001, 92 farmers grew 3,250 acres. A number of Canadian farmers are now growing organically-certified hemp crops (6,000 acres in 2003 and 8,500 acres in 2004, yielding almost four million pounds of seed).

    CHILE has grown hemp in the recent past for seed oil production.

    CHINA is the largest exporter of hemp textiles. The fabrics are of excellent quality. Medium density fiber board is also now available. The Chinese word for hemp is “ma.”

    DENMARK planted its first modern hemp trial crops in 1997. The country is committed to utilizing organic methods.

    FINLAND had a resurgence of hemp in 1995 with several small test plots. A seed variety for northern climates was developed called Finola, previously know by the breeder code “FIN-314.” In 2003, Finola was accepted to the EU list of subsidized hemp cultivars. Hemp has never been prohibited in Finland. The Finnish word for hemp is “hamppu.”

    FRANCE has never prohibited hemp and harvested 10,000 tons of fiber in 1994. France is a source of low-THC-producing hemp seed for other countries. France exports high quality hemp oil to the U.S. The French word for hemp is “chanvre.”

    GERMANY banned hemp in 1982, but research began again in 1992, and many technologies and products are now being developed, as the ban was lifted on growing hemp in November, 1995. Food, clothes and paper are also being made from imported raw materials. Mercedes and BMW use hemp fiber for composites in door panels, dashboards, etc. The German word for hemp is “hanf.”

    GREAT BRITAIN lifted hemp prohibition in 1993. Animal bedding, paper and textiles markets have been developed. A government grant was given to develop new markets for natural fibers. 4,000 acres were grown in 1994. Subsidies of 230 British pounds per acre are given by the government to farmers for growing hemp.

    HUNGARY is rebuilding their hemp industry, and is one of the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs and fabric to the U.S. They also export hemp seed, paper and fiberboard. The Hungarian word for hemp is “kender.”

    INDIA has stands of naturalized Cannabis and uses it for cordage, textiles and seed.

    ITALY has invested in the resurgence of hemp, especially for textile production. 1,000 acres were planted for fiber in 2002. Giorgio Armani grows its own hemp for specialized textiles.

    JAPAN has a rich religious tradition involving hemp, and custom requires that the Emperor and Shinto priests wear hemp garments in certain ceremonies, so there are small plots maintained for these purposes. Traditional spice mixes also include hemp seed. Japan supports a thriving retail market for a variety of hemp products. The Japanese word for hemp is “ASA.”

    NETHERLANDS is conducting a four-year study to evaluate and test hemp for paper, and is developing specialized processing equipment. Seed breeders are developing new strains of low-THC varieties. The Dutch word for hemp is “hennep.”

    NEW ZEALAND started hemp trials in 2001. Various cultivars are being planted in the north and south islands.

    POLAND currently grows hemp for fabric and cordage and manufactures hemp particle board. They have demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals. The Polish word for hemp is “konopij.”

    ROMANIA is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe. 1993 acreage was 40,000 acres. Some of it is exported to Hungary for processing. They also export hemp to Western Europe and the U.S. The Romanian word for hemp is “cinepa.”

    RUSSIA maintains the largest hemp germplasm collection in the world at the N.I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in St. Petersburg. They are in need of funding to maintain and support the collection. The Russian word for hemp is “konoplya.”

    SLOVENIA grows hemp and manufactures currency paper.

    SPAIN has never prohibited hemp, produces rope and textiles, and exports hemp pulp for paper. The Spanish word for hemp is “cañamo.”

    SWITZERLAND is a producer of hemp and hosts one of the largest hemp trade events, Cannatrade.

    TURKEY has grown hemp for 2,800 years for rope, caulking, birdseed, paper and fuel. The Turkish word for hemp is “kendir.”

    UKRAINE, EGYPT, KOREA, PORTUGAL and THAILAND also produce hemp.

    UNITED STATES granted the first hemp permit in over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter-acre plot in 1999. The license was renewed, but the project has since been closed due to DEA stalling tactics and related funding problems. Importers and manufacturers have thrived using imported raw materials. 22 states have introduced legislation, including VT, HI, ND, MT, MN, IL, VA, NM, CA, AR, KY, MD, WV and ME, addressing support, research or cultivation with bills or resolutions. The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has endorsed industrial hemp for years.

  16. SR25Stoner Avatar

    Then of course we should probably take over growing the other version of cannabis as well, here is why, $$$. People are going to smoke it no matter what laws say they can not do so. $$$$ this can be used for several things we all want fixed, habitat, climate, public lands. Put a legal age of use on it just like alcohol. Regulate it at least as well as alcohol. Then the illegal growers will stop invading public lands and grow it on farms. It is simply another choice. I choose neither cannabis nor alcohol, my choice is water. Cannabis users also have the same or lower incidence of murders and highway deaths as non users. Legal alcohol used has been connected to 150,000 deaths annually, not including 50% of all highway deaths, and 65% of all murders. Legal drugs over doses cause 100,000+ deaths annually. Illicit drug over doses cause 4000, to 10,000 deaths annually. We spend billions trying to eradicate this product, This effort has proven to be a failure. Those $$$$ should be used for other purposes..

  17. SR25Stoner Avatar


    I have it from a reliable source (DVM) pups have been known to get into fertilizers occasionally due to some types containing fish. Cannabis growers would likely be using this product, I was told, left untreated the pups would die from it. Another reason to stop this activity on public lands. No matter what the source I wonder what else was killed by this event, Ravens, Magpies, coyotes, weasels..??

  18. Arne P. Ryason Avatar

    Half the world’s forests have been ground into paper as a direct result of cannabis prohibition. It was the DuPont corporation that was responsible for this with their process that dissolves the lignin out of the cellulose to make paper. To top that off, the chemicals used in paper mills are the largest source of water pollution worldwide. The hemp researcher Jack Herer, in the 1980s, found that more than 80 percent of DuPont’s rail car shipments of chemicals were for tree paper. Hemp paper requires a fraction of the chemistry and not the harsh stuff needed for trees. DuPont owes it’s huge size to hemp prohibition and the resultant deforestation. This is the reason it will never be fully legalized in this country. This is the reason the mass media will never print the truth. The population would be outraged and DuPont’s stock would nose dive. Heads would roll. The whole “marihuana” drug issue is a smokescreen, literally. Also, you can’t patent the hemp plant. DuPont got a patent on their tree-paper process.

    “…the revenue-raising power of government might be converted into an instrument for FORCING ACCEPTANCE of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization.” – DuPont Annual Report, 1937, emphasis mine. The revenue raising power spoken of was the “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.” It’s right there in black and white, photocopied on page 166 of Jack Herer’s “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.”

    If you are any sort of environmentalist you are in favor of complete and total legalization of cannabis in all forms. You don’t have to be a pot smoker to want it legalized. No more deforestation for paper, no more clandestine farms’ fertilizers poisoning wildlife. End of story.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan