'The Desert is Blooming' is a two-part documentary podcast, produced by KFI News' Blake Troli.
The special takes listeners directly to the frontlines of the ongoing battle of California's vast illegal marijuana market.
It explores why the illicit market still exists in a state where marijuana is legal, takes listeners inside the struggling legal market, and details the challenges it is facing to get on its feet.
KFI News' Blake Troli was embedded with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Marijuana Enforcement Team to get a first-hand look at what officials are fighting against in the deserts right here in Southern California and the dangers it's imposing on the surrounding communities.
Special thanks to the following guests who appeared in this documentary.
Sergeant Rich Debevec is a 24-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, with over 11 years of experience with marijuana investigations while assigned to the Marijuana Enforcement Team as both a detective and a supervisor. He has investigated over 2,000 marijuana cultivations and over 100 butane honey oil labs while assigned to the Marijuana Enforcement Team. He is currently the Incident Supervisor for Operation Hammer Strike, San Bernardino County’s year-long operation to combat marijuana cultivation within San Bernardino County.
Deputy Cody Dare is a 6-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. He has worked assignments in corrections and two patrol stations. Deputy Dare has been on temporary duty with the Marijuana Enforcement Team since September of 2021 as part of Operation Hammer Strike, San Bernardino County’s year-long operation to combat marijuana cultivation within San Bernardino County. He has participated in over 300 investigations into illegal marijuana cultivations.
Janice Mackey is a Public Information Officer for the Cannabis Program at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In this role, she supports public outreach, media relations and industry partnerships among other duties. Prior to this, she served as a Communications Manager for the California Victim Compensation Board and held a variety of Marketing Communications positions in the hi-tech sector.
Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R - 36th District) has represented California’s 36th Assembly District since 2014. Before joining the Assembly, Tom served on the Palmdale Elementary School District Board of Trustees and the Palmdale City Council. After high school, he served as a missionary for two years before he earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from Utah State University. Tom later worked as an elementary special education teacher before beginning a 28-year career with the California Highway Patrol. He lives in Palmdale with his two children, Justin and Jani.
During his short time as a State Legislator, Tom has championed successful efforts to combat the growing problem of drugged driving and provide increased state funding to support programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result, he was honored as Legislator of Year by the California Police Chiefs Association and Easter Seals—a non-profit dedicated to providing services and advocacy for special needs individuals.