Marijuana Drug Busts on The Rise in Yosemite (CA Penal Code §11357)

Rabin Nabizadeh
April 23, 2013

 In a park that has over 3 million visitors each year, there are bound to be a few people who take community with nature, well, a little more seriously than others.  But Yosemite’s park rangers have been cracking down on those who bring illegal substances into the area, attempting to preserve the nature preserve’s “family friendly” atmosphere.  Most of the arrests, it seems, are for marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms – both of which are popular in the park among campers and visitors.

A marijuana possession charge at Yosemite can cost you a misdemeanor citation (CA Penal Code §11357) and $275, a minor fee.  However, why is it that the Yosemite rangers have become so concerned with patrolling the park for drug users?  Are these magic mushroom eating, pot smoking “hippie” types so dangerous that they warrant this kind of attention or is the park simply interested in making a little extra cash for the often financially burdened park?

NBC Bay Area’s recent expose on Yosemite’s “drug problem” revealed that 855 people have been arrested in the park within the past year and 2,400 in the past two years.  Perhaps the cause of the sudden concern and vigilance of the park rangers is the ostensible danger that park goers place themselves in when confronting a natural and potentially life-threatening environment.  More likely than not, however, it is the influx of cash that comes from the associated fines that is the real reason for Yosemite’s increase in the interest of visitors’ behavior.

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