Two weeks ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made the controversial decision to re-open the Sunshine State’s beaches, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Fed up with being forced to remain indoors for over a month, Floridians cast social distancing aside and made a mad dash for their nearest beach.
Beachcombers took a special interest in discovering what kinds of debris may have washed up on the beach over the past month of isolation, but one Floridian found much more than they bargained for. Last Thursday, an anonymous beachgoer discovered a mysterious blue plastic barrel stuffed with cannabis flower floating just off shore in Marathon, a city in the Florida Keys.
Rather than taking advantage of this sudden windfall to celebrate a belated 4/20 on the beach, the upright citizen notified the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. When arriving on the scene, cops discovered that the barrel contained five separate bales of weed, also known as square groupers, which contained around 90 pounds of dried bud. The police then notified US Border Patrol agents, who seized the contraband.
Discovering the massive stash of weed was quite a surprise for the anonymous tipster, but Florida cops are used to seeing pot and other drugs wash up onshore. Florida is often the first point of entry for drug smugglers coming from South America, and some smugglers end up being forced to dump their contraband in an attempt to evade American law enforcement.
Although police do not know exactly where this weed was supposed to be shipped to, some of it may have been destined for the local black market. Florida currently has a robust medical marijuana program, despite the interference of conservative lawmakers, but recreational use remains illegal. Activists have been working to place an adult-use legalization measure on this year’s general election ballot, but politicians managed to interrupt this process with a new law that makes it nearly impossible for ballot initiatives to succeed.
Hurricane season is the most common time for Florida cops to discover mysterious drug bundles washing up on family-friendly beaches. Last September, in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, beachgoers discovered over a dozen bricks of pure cocaine randomly washing up all along Florida’s Atlantic coast. And one year before that, cops seized over a hundred pounds of black market weed washed up on the beach after Hurricane Florence ravaged the state.
The Sunshine State is not the only coastal state where illicit drugs wash up on shore, though. Last year, sunbathers at a San Diego beach found an abandoned motor boat packed full of weed, and the Southern California Coast Guard found 43 bales containing 1,300 pounds of weed floating in the Pacific Ocean. And last spring, Alabama cops seized over 100 pounds of weed and coke, with a street value of over $1 million, that washed up on Orange Beach.