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MODESTO, CA - Stanislaus County drug agents uncovered and removed more than a 1,000 marijuana plants Tuesdaythat were ready for harvest.

Sheriff Adam Christianson said the quantity of marijuana discovered recently around the county is startling.

"The amount of marijuana and the quality and size is better than ever before. It's a bumper crop," said the sheriff.

The most recent gardens were found growing along the San Joaquin River about 20 miles west of Modesto. The land is owned by a former county supervisor who didn't realize his property was being used by people to grow the drug. The plants were well-hidden by thick brush and tall trees.

Even though California voters approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons, Christianson doesn't hide his dislike for any efforts to legalize.

"It's not harmless. It's addictive and mind-altering. Talk to anyone who's addicted to meth: They started with alcohol and marijuana. We have to send a message we don't want this stuff in the hands of our young people," the sheriff said.

Christianson said Mexican drug cartelsare often behind the marijuana plots found throughout California. He also said drug agencies like the one in Stanislaus County are only making a dent in the the state's marijuana production.

By tdaly@news10.net

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