By Devin Fehely

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Santa Clara County is cracking down on illegal marijuana grows and the effort comes with a hefty price tag.

Some say it’s a waste of money and time.

Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance founder Sean Kali-Rai said, “The truth is they’re still fighting the Nancy Reagan War on Drugs.”

Kali-Rai says Santa Clara County is moving in the wrong direction, wasting money and manpower cracking down on illegal marijuana grows just weeks after pot use became legal statewide.

“It’s just misguided,” Kali-Rai said. “Fifty-seven percent of the county voted in favor of the legalization of the cannabis industry.”

But on Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to double the size of its marijuana eradication team, adding three additional officers and buying brand-new equipment, at a cost of more than $800,000 a year.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office says they have been flooded with complaints about people who are not following the new state law, and growing illegally. But have been too short-staffed to investigate them all.

Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Richard Glennon said, “We’re looking at trespass grows where people are growing on public land, on other people’s private land unbeknownst the them. And we also have indoor grows.”

Supervisor Dave Cortese says law enforcement can’t turn a blind eye to the marijuana black market.

“It might be a little cheaper. But it’s not regulated,” Cortese said. “You don’t know what you’re really getting. You don’t know what kinds of pesticides or poisons are on it. You’re much better off buying from a regulated dispensary at this point.”

Santa Clara County has yet to come up with its own rules for the commercial cultivation of marijuana, something the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance says would be far more effective than another crackdown.

“Santa Clara County has a long history of agricultural development – farming,” Kali-Rai said. “They’re trying to preserve that heritage. At the same time, this would be the perfect cash crop for lack of a better word.”

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