Counter-terrorism exercise features pot growers setting off bombs, seizing dam

Marijuana activists are criticizing — and at least partly laughing off — a counter-terrorism exercise carried out Wednesday in California that featured marijuana growers setting off bombs and seizing a dam.

Organized by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the exercise involved 20 government agencies and some 250 personnel, according to a report from the Redding Record-Searchlight. In the scenario, marijuana growers blew up a bus and car and seized control of northern California’s Shasta Dam in a bid to free an imprisoned colleague.

The Shasta Dam scenario began with the two mock bomb blasts followed by the “Red Cell” terrorist group taking over the dam in an effort to free one of their fellow marijuana growers from prison. Holding three people hostage, they threatened to flood the Sacramento River by rolling open the drum gates atop the dam. Those gates hold back the nearly full lake.

Jeff Stein at the Washington Post points out that “in a confidential catalog of terrorist threats, uncovered by Congressional Quarterly in 2005, the Department of Homeland Security did not include the region’s marijuana growers.” And marijuana advocates say there has never been a recorded case of marijuana-growing terrorists attacking public works.

“No, never,” California NORML head Dale Gieringer told the Drug War Chronicle.

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