Today, NPR has a fascinating story on a radio station in Northern California that has, for decades, warned of any police or federal activity. (Click here for another NPR story on increasingly strict medical marijuana regulations).
As summer looms, pot growers in the Northern California counties of Humboldt and Mendocino are preparing the ground for another growing season. Meanwhile, local, state and federal agents are poised to deploy helicopters and trucks to raid illegal operations.
The reports come courtesy of radio station KMUD, and, according to the report, often go something like this: "According to a citizen's observation, at 8:45 a.m., three helicopters were seen heading from Laytonville to Bell Spring Road."
KMUD program director Marianne Knorzer says the reports are part of the station's broader commitment to progressive politics, government accountability and public safety.
"We're not broadcasting their whole operations," Knorzer says. "We're just giving the public an awareness that there are 10 trucks heading down a very narrow road with one-lane portions of it, with tight turns. Again, our reports are quite benign."
With the rapid acceptance of marijuana, medical or otherwise, threats against officials have increased.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman worries that the radio reports could tip them off — and he wants the broadcasts to end.
"I hope they're not going to say, 'This is my land, don't come here,'" Allman says. "But what if that did happen, you know? And what if somebody did get hurt? Either that citizen or a law enforcement officer. Well, who would have blood on their hands?"
Regardless, the reports have been a staple of the community, and are unlikely to stop any time soon.
"I can't ever imagine that happening," Knorzer says.