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Are We Sure This Is Mexico’s Largest Marijuana Farm?

The military has discovered a 300-acre plantation in Baja California

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Google “Mexico” and “marijuana” this morning and you’ll find many headlines informing you that Mexican soldiers have discovered the country’s “biggest” or “largest” marijuana plantation ever in the remote Baja California desert, across the border from San Diego. But look a little closer and you’ll see other news outlets hedging; AFP puts ‘largest’ in quotes, for instance, while The Wall Street Journal goes with the phrase ‘large marijuana farm.’ Why the discrepancy?

It’s rather complicated. The Mexican army says the 300-acre plantation, which can produce 120 tons of pot worth an estimated $160 million, is the largest in Mexican history and four times the size of the previous record-holder, the “El Bufalo” ranch in northern Chihuahua state that authorities discovered in 1984, according to the AP (AFP, quoting the military, identifies the previous record-holder as an 158-acre farm in the state of Sinaloa uncovered in 2007.) Experts like Alberto Islas, however, are casting doubt on the military’s claims, arguing that the Bufalo farm was much bigger than the Baja field. Mexican press reports claim El Bufalo was 1,344 acres and contained anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 tons of marijuana worth somewhere between $3.2 billion and $8 billion in today’s prices, The Journal notes. Islas tells the paper that the Mexican army could be exaggerating the size of yesterday’s bust to boost morale as Mexican’s violent drug war drags on. A Mexican official, meanwhile, explains that the Bufalo plantation was a series of 13 different fields and the Baja plantation was bigger than any individual Bufalo field. Ah, the difficulty in measuring marijuana plantations.

The plantation, pictured in the aerial shot above, was hidden by a black screen and tomato stalks and included a “sophisticated system of piped-in irrigation to support the plants,” the tallest of which were nearly eight feet, according to the AP. CNN gives us a sense of the farm’s proportions, noting that the field is 168 times larger than the soccer field in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium. Mexico, the world’s biggest producer of marijuana, has detained several people in connection with the bust and will destroy the Baja plantation by burning the pot plants. In this Reuters photo, a helicopter flies over the vast fields:

Here Mexican soldiers walk under the black tarp:

And here, in case you’re interested, are the plantation’s bathrooms:

The Telegraph and Reuters have video of the plantation and a press conference by authorities:

Update: For those asking about the process of destroying the plantation, Reuters has pictures of the destruction yesterday:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

The military has discovered a 300-acre plantation in Baja California

Largest marijuana farm ever discovered in Mexico

Mexico: The Mexican army says it has discovered a huge field with mature marijuana in the northern state of Baja California. Soldiers were patrolling the area, some 300km (190 miles) south of the US border, when they found the plantation. The field near the town of San Quintin, measuring 1.2sq km (300 acres), was surrounded by a hedge of cacti. It is the largest marijuana plantation ever found in Mexico, officials say.

They say it would have yielded a harvest worth about $160 million. A Mexican army spokesman told the BBC it was unclear who owned the territory. An estimated 60 people were working on the plantation, said the local army commander, Gen Alfonso Duarte. “When they saw the military personnel, they fled,” he told reporters.

Australia: Western Australia Toughens Marijuana Laws – The state government in Western Australia announced Sunday that it put into place more repressive marijuana laws as of August 1. Western Australia had effectively decriminalized the possession of up to 30 grams of pot under the previous Labor government, with violators ticketed and fined between $100 and $200. But Police Minister Rob Johnson said those “relaxed, soft drug laws” would be repealed and replaced by a tougher regime. “What it will mean is that those people caught with cannabis will not simply get a slap on the wrist,” he told reporters. Under the new law, the personal use amount will shrink to 10 grams, and people caught with those small amounts will not be ticketed, but referred to court and will receive a Cannabis Intervention Requirement to attend a mandatory counseling session. People possessing more than 10 grams will face up to two years in prison or a $2,000 fine. Persons possessing more than 100 grams (less than a quarter-pound) will be charged with the Australian equivalent of possession with intent to distribute and could face up to two years in prison or a $20,000 fine.

The Netherlands: Medicinal cannabis use – Four cannabis varieties are available in Dutch pharmacies. According to an analysis of the use of prescribed cannabis over the period 2003-2010 cannabis was dispensed more than 40,000 times to about 6,000 different patients. The number of patients steadily increased in recent years, growing from about 850 patients in 2006, to more than 1,300 in 2010. This increase coincided with the fact that some Dutch pharmacies had specialized in medicinal cannabis, resulting in lower prices and better information for the patient.

USA: Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Filed – Twin initiatives that would regulate marijuana sales and production and legalize the possession of pot by adults were filed with the state Secretary of State’s office Wednesday. The initiatives were filed by a new coalition called Show-Me Cannabis. One of the initiatives would amend the state constitution; the other would revise state statutes. The Secretary of State’s office has a month to approve their language. Once one or both are approved, signature gathering aimed at putting the initiative on the November 2012 ballot could get underway.

USA: Miami Beach Likely to Vote on Marijuana Decrim – Voters in Miami Beach could make it the first city in Florida to decriminalize marijuana possession after campaigners announced Tuesday they had turned in more than double the number of voter signatures needed for their initiative to make the ballot. They needed 4,300 signatures and turned in more than 9,000. The initiative is sponsored by the Campaign for Sensible Marijuana Policies in Florida. Under the initiative, people caught in possession of up to 20 grams of pot would face no more than a $100 fine. Under Florida state law, possession of up to 20 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Science: Tolerance – According to research at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, USA, regular users of cannabis present with reduction (downregulation) of CB1 receptors in the cortex of the brain. After 4 weeks of abstinence numbers of receptors (receptor density) returned to normal levels.

Science: Arthritis – According to research at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, USA, blockade of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which degrades the endocannabinoid anandamide, reduces development of arthritis and associated increased pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia) in mice. The blockade results in an increased anandamide concentration.

Largest marijuana farm ever discovered in Mexico Mexico: The Mexican army says it has discovered a huge field with mature marijuana in the northern state of Baja California. Soldiers were