U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Republican of Richvale is working in a bi-partisan effort to pass legislation to provide resources to help local, state, and federal law enforcement eradicate illegal marijuana grows on public lands and establish a fund to restore land that has been damaged by illegal cultivation activities.
LaMalfa joined California U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman, Salud Carbajal, TJ Cox, and Hal Rogers of Kentucky and Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn introduced the Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking (PLANT) Act.
In 2018, local, state, and federal officials completed a year-long illegal marijuana eradication effort known as Operation Forest Watch. The effort resulted in the seizure of 82 firearms, 638,370 plants, and over 103,603 pounds of trash, pesticides, and chemicals. The most concerning finding was the fact that 89% of sites were confirmed to have traces of carbofuran or methamidophos, pesticide components that are prohibited in the US.
“Our public lands are being abused and held hostage by drug traffickers with large-scale grow operations often run by international cartels,” LaMalfa said. “Marijuana legalization efforts in many states have done nothing to reduce the number of illegal trespass grows. Not only is this a clear danger to the public, but it is also harmful to the environment. Illegal pesticides, illegal water diversions, and the killing of animals has created immeasurable damage.”
He adds, law enforcement is ill-equipped to safely clean up these grows, but the introduced bill would provide them the resources to do it.
“I thank my colleagues for their support on this bill to eradicate these illegal grows and make our public lands a safer place for both wildlife and recreators,” LaMalfa said.
According to Huffman, trespass marijuana grows are increasing throughout his district and the U.S., making forests and other public lands unsafe for working and recreation, threatening endangered wildlife, and contaminating. Huffman represents the “Emerald Triangle” of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties in northern California.
“Illegal marijuana cultivation on public, protected lands is unacceptable. Many of these illegal trespass grows use pesticides that threaten our wildlife and pollute our water. Moreover, they exist at the expense of legal cannabis producers who support our economy and follow the law,” said Carbajal. “The PLANT Act imposes penalties on activities that harm our environment and public health and then uses those funds to restore the public lands damaged by the activity. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of this bipartisan, commonsense solution.”
Cox and Rogers joined in the comments made by their fellow PLANT Act legislators.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa represents California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama counties.