HomeUncategorizedThe Surge of Chinese-Funded Marijuana Farms in the U.S.: Opportunity and Exploitation

The Surge of Chinese-Funded Marijuana Farms in the U.S.: Opportunity and Exploitation

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In a recent investigation by NPR’s Emily Feng, a startling trend has emerged: Chinese-funded and staffed marijuana farms are rapidly springing up across the United States. This surge, driven by economic hardships and the allure of quick profits, has unveiled a dark side of human trafficking and exploitation.

Last summer, New Mexico state agents discovered thousands of cannabis plants at a farm in Torrance County, far exceeding legal limits. However, what was more shocking was the presence of dozens of underfed and frightened Chinese workers, who claimed they had been trafficked to the farm, prevented from leaving, and never paid. Lynn Sanchez, director of a New Mexico social services nonprofit, noted their dire condition, stating, “They looked weathered. They were very scared, very freaked out.”

These workers are part of a new wave of migrants leaving China, crossing the U.S. border via Mexico, and finding employment in the burgeoning U.S. cannabis industry. This trend is partially a result of the global economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, which left many in China struggling to find work.

According to NPR, One such worker, referred to as L., shared his harrowing journey from Hubei province in China to a New Mexico marijuana farm. After facing unemployment and housing issues in China, L. saw videos on Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) showcasing people earning substantial amounts in the U.S. Enticed by promises of high wages, L. embarked on a perilous journey through Turkey, Ecuador, and the treacherous Darién Gap jungle, ultimately crossing the U.S. border in May 2023.

L.’s story is not unique. The U.S. has seen a significant increase in Chinese migrants crossing the southern border, with border authorities encountering 37,000 Chinese nationals last year—more than the previous decade combined. These migrants are often recruited by labor agencies that place them in cannabis farms across the U.S. for a fee.

At Bliss Farm in New Mexico, L. and other workers found themselves in squalid conditions, working 15-hour shifts without pay and living in makeshift wooden sheds. State authorities eventually raided the farm, revoking its license and fining it $1 million for exceeding state grow limits. Workers like L. have applied for asylum in the U.S., but their future remains uncertain.

The rapid legalization of marijuana in states like New Mexico has created a booming industry, attracting both legitimate entrepreneurs and unscrupulous investors. Investigations have revealed links between some marijuana operations and Chinese criminal syndicates, although NPR found no evidence of organized crime in the farms they investigated. Instead, small-scale investors from China, eager to capitalize on the U.S. cannabis market, have fueled this trend.

Ella Hao, an accountant from Shandong province, invested $30,000 in a New Mexico marijuana farm and later spent $300,000 on land in Oklahoma, hoping to establish a profitable grow operation. However, both ventures ended in failure, leaving Hao and her family in financial ruin.

The story of these Chinese-funded marijuana farms is a complex one, blending hope and desperation, opportunity and exploitation. As the U.S. cannabis market continues to grow, it is crucial to address the underlying issues of human trafficking and labor exploitation that tarnish this burgeoning industry.

L.’s story is not unique. The U.S. has seen a significant increase in Chinese migrants crossing the southern border, with border authorities encountering 37,000 Chinese nationals last year—more than the previous decade combined. These migrants are often recruited by labor agencies that place them in cannabis farms across the U.S. for a fee.

At Bliss Farm in New Mexico, L. and other workers found themselves in squalid conditions, working 15-hour shifts without pay and living in makeshift wooden sheds. State authorities eventually raided the farm, revoking its license and fining it $1 million for exceeding state grow limits. Workers like L. have applied for asylum in the U.S., but their future remains uncertain.

The rapid legalization of marijuana in states like New Mexico has created a booming industry, attracting both legitimate entrepreneurs and unscrupulous investors. Investigations have revealed links between some marijuana operations and Chinese criminal syndicates, although NPR found no evidence of organized crime in the farms they investigated. Instead, small-scale investors from China, eager to capitalize on the U.S. cannabis market, have fueled this trend.

ACZ Editor: We are not big fans of marijuana at ACZ, we recognize the brain damage being done to kids by this stuff. Maybe it is our paranoia but we can’t help but believe that there is a CCP connection to this….

https://www.npr.org/2024/06/24/1238497863/chinese-marijuana-farms-new-mexico

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