Federal Bill Would Up Penalties for Marijuana "Trespass Grows"

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.

Forest Service, National Guard members clean up marijuana grow site (ngcounterdrug.ng.mil)
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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This is ridiculous... 6 or so bills introduced in congress to head away from prohibition to varying degrees, and then this one is introduced to "increase penalties."  How absurd.  If this bill gets a hearing or worse yet, gets a vote or WORSE worse yet, gets passed.. I will lose forever the little faith in Congress that I have.

Thinking Clearly's picture

Washington Lemmings

Well its already illegal, so these guys want to...make it MORE illegal? Wow, that will really make the criminal types shake in their boots. Criminals never plan on being caught BTW just in case anyone in the judiciary branches hasn't noticed.

The House Judiciary Committee needs to investigate the unworkable solutions that the Government has been operating on that caused the problem to begin with. That problem is the Federal prohibition of marijuana and its attendant unregulated industries that are causing this environmental harm. Throwing more money to the bad and suggesting obviously unworkable solutions like longer prison terms, stiffer sentences and newer and longer lists of crimes, need themselves to be investigated as lazy and unworkable solutions that waste our constitutional freedoms and waste taxpayers monies.

Positive program!

Ironic that certain $$-motivated growers are accused of environmental damage (which may be true) when hemp can be used in ways that will constitute the most dramatic protective intervention for the environment in human history.

Instead of "damming and diverting streams" deadwood litter, sticks and branches and weedstalks can be bundled, hauled to dry streambeds, ravines, gullies etc. and deposited there to DETAIN  water which otherwise runs off depriving uplands of evaporation and rainfall.  Into such mounds of material cannabis seeds can be planted, producing a famously vigorous root system which fastens the biomass in place (green fingers visible from space).   On erosion-prone hillsides lay wired-together junk pallets together all the way up (those things are heavy enough) to hold the bushmaterial down.  This is an opportunity for students, underemployed persons, ex-offenders, immigrants-- by the millions-- to do something generously beneficial for drought-stricken sections of our country.

Oh yes, the $$-growers wouldn't be happy at all that hemp misfertilizing their prize $$-high-thc skunk females etc., well let's legalize that and put the cartelsneakers out of bizness, shall we? 

just legalize and it all goes

just legalize and it all goes away what a waist of money the fleecing the American citizens 

Legal pollution

"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." 

Well, it seems like this type of destruction is OK when it comes to Mountain Top Removal for coal, fracking, logging, and big ag. Where is THAT bill to protect us?

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