Reps. Huffman, Thompson, Farr, LaMalfa Applaud Action to Stop Environmental Destruction Caused by Trespass Marijuana Grows

April 14, 2014

WASHINGTON­—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), Sam Farr (D-Carmel), and Doug LaMalfa (R- Richvale), applauded the U.S. Sentencing Commission for taking action to increase public safety and stop the environmental destruction caused by trespass marijuana grows on our public and private lands. The U.S. Sentencing Commission announced last Thursday that it adopted increased penalties for high-level offenders cultivating marijuana on trespassed private or public lands, as Huffman, Thompson, Farr, and LaMalfa, along with California’s U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, requested in a November letter to the Commission.

These amended Sentencing Commission guidelines will be submitted to Congress and reviewed for a six-month period. They will officially take effect November 1.

“From the use of highly-toxic and illegal pesticides and rodenticides, to the violence perpetuated by drug trafficking organizations, trespass marijuana cultivation makes our public and private lands unsafe for all of us. California is in the midst of a devastating drought, and many of these grow operations illegally divert streams and tap groundwater with untold impacts on downstream water users and wildlife,” said Congressman Huffman. “As we move toward more rational marijuana policies it’s critical 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, and I’m glad that the Sentencing Commission has taken strong action to help keep our communities and public lands safe.”

“Illegal marijuana grow sites that threaten lives, destroy public lands and devastate wildlife have become far too common,” said Congressman Thompson. “These new sentencing guidelines will serve as a strong deterrent against these illegal grow sites, and they will help make sure criminals who wreck our public and private lands are held fully responsible for the harm they cause.”

As our nation moves forward with more sensible laws to address marijuana use, we have to develop better policies to deal with the bad actors,” said Congressman Farr. “I am glad that the Sentencing Commission is changing their guidelines to address trespass marijuana grows. With these new guidelines in place, we can make public and private lands safer while protecting the environment for everyone to enjoy.”

“While illegal marijuana cultivation has made many of our public and private lands unsafe, it also does untold damage to our forests and waterways. When these operations illegally divert streams, contaminate water supplies and leave refuse behind, property owners and local governments are stuck with thousands of dollars in clean-up costs,” said Congressman LaMalfa. “The Sentencing Commission’s recognition of these impacts will go a long way toward ensuring that those who disregard our nation’s laws are held responsible.”

Huffman, Thompson, Farr, and LaMalfa previously introduced the PLANT Act, a bipartisan bill which would direct the Sentencing Commission to establish new penalties for these environmentally destructive practices. Sen. Feinstein and Senator Boxer introduced a companion bill in the Senate.