Researchers and U.S. authorities are finding what they say is an alarming increase in the use of a powerful banned pesticide at illegal marijuana farms hidden on public land in California.
The pesticide residue is showing up in about 30 percent of the plants themselves, researcher Mourad Gabriel told The Associated Press. U.S. and state authorities will announce Tuesday that they will use $2.5 million in federal money to target the illegal grows.
Researchers found the highly toxic pesticide Carbofuran at 72 percent of grow sites last year, up from 15 percent in 2012, said Gabriel, executive director and senior ecologist at Integral Ecology Research Center and one of the few researchers studying the ecological impact of illicit grow sites.
California has long allowed medicinal marijuana and legalized recreational pot this year. While U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott will enforce federal laws that ban the drug, he said he is targeting illicit grows on public land with cooperation from California's attorney general and the state's National Guard.
"What is happening here is illegal for all purposes under anybody's law," he said in an interview before Tuesday's announcement.