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Human trafficking a dark side of cannabis legalization?

Some immigrant women provide cheap labor for cannabis farms in the Central Coast of California and, save for select workers sometimes permitted to leave to procure supplies, disallowed to leave until a harvests’ reaping – at least according to a report by Cal Coast Times.

Among recent allegations by former associates and ex-employees of marijuana mogul Helios Dayspring is the story of 60 undocumented Vietnamese and Laotian women trafficked to Central Valley to work for Dayspring on his cannabis farms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Some of the women, captives of the grow by supposedly locked gates, work from 5am to after midnight, sleep in tents and wash themselves with hoses. After harvest, the women are supposedly transported in the beds of trucks to a new Dayspring grow.

There have been other reports of similar situations. In Salinas, Monterey County officials conducting a routine inspection of a cannabis farm not related to Dayspring discovered in June 10 Hmong people from Laos and nearby it living in shipping containers.

Inspectors informed sheriff investigators of the poor living conditions who found the people to be victims of human trafficking.

A 16-year-old girl died and 20-year-old woman, both of whom worked on one of the farms, were seriously injured when the latter lost control of a 2019 Kia Sportage, reads a CHP press release. The 16-year-old was ejected from the vehicle.

While a Dayspring partner on a Tepusquet Canyon Road grow, Knut Siegfried, claimed the women were children of a worker, others reported both women were workers at the Tepusquet Canyon cannabis farm.

Antonio Perez-Cortes, a grow worker, placed the victims in a car. While driving them to the hospital, he spotted an ambulance and flagged it down, which then transported the women to Marian Regional Medical Center where the 16-year-old died of her injuries. Former dayspring affiliates said the victims were worked in a crew run by a woman known as “Mai”, whose crew trims cannabis buds for the harvest.

Weeks before the fatal crash, CHP investigator Xavier Stencer went to the 1556 Tepusquet Road site to pursue a tip and discovered what he termed “deplorable living conditions.”

The CHP closed the investigation into the accident after the car’s driver and her alleged family members refused to talk to CHP officers, Stencer said.