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Marijuana Suppression Program To Suffer $177,000 Reduction

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Sonora, CA — State officials have notified the Tuolumne County Sheriff´s Office they are reducing grant funding for the Marijuana Suppression Program (MSP) by $177,000 effective July 1.

Those funds from the State Offices of Emergency Services-Criminal Justice Programs Division have historically been utilized to pay the salaries of two narcotics detectives performing marijuana garden eradication activities, the cost to the District Attorney´s Office for assisting with the legal issues related to grant activities and for the purchase of over $31,000 in equipment used in the detection and eradication of marijuana gardens in the county´s forest lands during the five month growing season. A portion of the funding has also been used to update the detectives´ training and to subsidize the cost of building rent for T.N.T. (Tuolumne Narcotics Team) at the Columbia Airport.

Sheriff Jim Mele commented; “We are going to work very hard to attempt to find alternative funding sources for these positions in order to hold the T.N.T. unit together. We had been under the impression the state was going to find the funding for us. If we are unable to find some way to fund these positions, our ability to detect and eracicate the marijuana grows from our forest lands will be severely impacted. To conduct an investigation and eradicate just one garden takes a considerable amount of manpower and equipment. This news represents a serious blow to our efforts.”

Mele added that he may be forced to reassign staff from T.N.T. into other units where vacancies exist. But, said Mele, “that alternative would effectively disable our marijuana eradication-enforcement efforts.”

Written by Bill Johnson