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Federal Bill Would Up Penalties For Marijuana “Trespass Grows”

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trespass grows marijuana federal billBy Phillip Smith

A bill introduced Thursday by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) and bipartisan cosponsors from California and Colorado would create new penalties for marijuana growers who grow on federal lands or who trespass on other people’s property to grow and who cause environmental damages. “Trespass grows” are a tempting alternative for growers who seek to avoid having their own properties seized under federal drug asset forfeiture laws.

Growing marijuana on federal lands (or anywhere else, for that matter) is already against federal law, but the cutely-acronymed Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking (PLANT) Act would instruct the US Sentencing Commission to establish new penalties for “trespass grows.” The bill identified three environmental concerns: the illegal use of pesticides, rodenticides, or high-grade fertilizers; the “substantial” pilfering of water from local aquifers, and “significant” removal of timber or other vegetation.

Pressed by law enforcement, marijuana growers have increasingly moved onto federal parks and forests, as well as private properties. Last year, in the national forests alone, eradicators cut down nearly a million plants. Officials and landowners accuse growers of leveling hilltops, starting landslides on erosion-prone hillsides, diverting and damming creeks and streams, and using large amounts of pesticides to protect their crops.

“Throughout my district and increasingly throughout the United States, we’re seeing trespass marijuana grows threatening endangered wildlife, contaminating fragile salmon streams, and making forests unsafe for working and recreation,” said Congressman Huffman, who represents the “Emerald Triangle” of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties in northern California. “As we move toward more rational marijuana policies, which I believe should be left to the states, it’s important that we address the immediate threat to our environment and public safety posed by trespass growing operations. Where it is lawful to grow marijuana, it must be done lawfully and responsibly.”

“These illegal grow sites are threatening lives, destroying public lands and devastating wildlife,” said bill cosponsor Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). “There should be stiff penalties for the people whose reckless and illegal actions are causing this environmental damage. Our legislation will make sure these criminals are held fully responsible for the harm they cause.”

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

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10 Comments

  1. Uh, the point here is that these operations are often on public lands and to avoid confiscation are placed on public lands . And the problem will be solved when there is national legalization which is not an “easy” solution.

  2. I do not condone any planting on federal lands. At the same time when I hear about all the disturction caused by marijuana plants I want to puke. When people are growing somewhere they are not supposed to they don’t chop down all the trees they use them as cover. This is the same for vegetation as well. Now when it comes to fertiliser people I know who grow only use stuff that does not hurt the environment nor the patient who will be the end user.
    Now when it comes to the cartels who bring people in to take care of the gardens they seem to not care at all about what they destroy. The difference can be told by if people are living on site. If they are living on site it is probably the cartels.

  3. Red flags are going up here. While my first impression is, “alright, they’ll be cracking down on the cartels”, but further thinking has me following the money again. Perhaps the law enforcement entities are gearing up for continued funding when it all becomes legal and regulated. They see the writing on the wall and are also trying to save not only funding, but their jobs as well. While the cannabis industry will create many jobs, there will be many lost. I don’t expect that they will find much more gold in them thar hills than they are presently. With all the money being thrown at the Drug War, unsuccessfully, you’d think they’d learn it doesn’t work very effectively. I’d like to see this legal energy spent in a better way.

  4. Easy solution – end prohibition and allow grows on your property without penalty. Wow common sense evades them everytime. Personally I plan to do indoor grows when I move back West so I have more control of my personal crop. If I show signs of a black thumb I will try and only buy from someone that can prove they grow responsibly (if I can).

  5. Exactly. If you get caught growing on your property, your property will be taken from you. This problem of environmental destruction is so easily solved with legalization.

  6. Make marijuana legal so it can be grown in the open and at home. This would resolve many concerns at once.

  7. So who’s pocket are they in today, we all know this is complete bullshit, they are just doing this because it’s easier to suck on big pharms and big corps teat then to leave marijuana alone.

  8. I’m wondering which industry did the lobbying to Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) and all the rest of ’em. Environmental protection is important, but let’s be honest here, there are all sorts of other things they could have targeted besides Mary Jane that would have made a bigger impact to protect mother nature.

  9. Actually there is considerable damage as growers use DDT, dam and divert watercourses for irrigation, use massive amounts of fertilizer with runoff, and leave garbage, and booby trap grow sites. “For every acre of forest planted with marijuana, 10 acres are damaged, and further, the cost to repair and restore an outdoor cultivation site is approximately $11,000 per acre.”

    However, there are already laws dealing with this–a problem which is a direct result of prohibition.

  10. what?!? are they seriously suggesting that growing a weed plant damages the environment, but drilling for oil is ok? building cities and roadways are ok? deforesting for paper products are alright? this kinda ignorance makes me ill, and now im mad

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