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California seizes $1.5 billion in illegally grown marijuana plants

Growing pains for legal weed in California
Growing pains for legal weed in California 13:18

Authorities say they have seized more than $1.5 billion worth of illegally grown marijuana plants in California in an annual eradication program. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday that the raids netted more than 950,000 plants from nearly 350 growing operation sites this year.

Becerra said nearly 150 people were arrested statewide and 168 weapons were seized.

Becerra said more plants were seized in 2019 than during the operation in 2018 when some of the efforts were impeded by wildfires and smoke covering grows.

"Illegal cannabis grows are devastating our communities. Criminals who disregard life, poison our waters, damage our public lands, and weaponize the illegal cannabis black market will be brought to justice," said Becerra.

Authorities say they could not estimate a street value of the plants seized and based their figures on wholesale prices of $1,600 per plant.

The illegal grows harm the state's wildlife and waterways, officials said.

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