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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Marijuana Growers Subject to Fines for Damaging the Environment

The state of California continues to struggle with a drought that doesn’t appear to be letting up any time in the near future. In January, Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency, urging state officials to prepare for water shortages. While California may be best known for its sandy beaches and lovely climate, the state happens to also be known as one of the biggest fruit and nut producers in the world - its Central Valley needs vast amounts of water to facilitate such growth.

There is another California industry that requires huge amounts of water - marijuana. While many growers are protected by state medical marijuana laws, there are hundreds of illegal grow operations that occur on state forest lands. Illegal growers have little regard for the environment and steal water, at a time when there little to go around. On California rivers and streams, investigators have discovered more than 135 dams or flow diversions constructed to supply marijuana operations, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Governor Brown has signed into law a measure introduced by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) that will allow marijuana growers to incur heavy financial penalties for damaging the environment by:
  • Dumping Wastewater
  • Dumping Chemicals
  • Deforestation
  • Killing Wildlife
“These practices exacerbate California's already historic drought conditions and severely affect Coho Salmon runs and other fishery populations,” Monning said. “The need for flat, fertilized land to cultivate cannabis plants has forced some bad actors to eliminate native vegetation and destroy forested habitat, often bulldozing acres of land with no regard for its ecological effects.”

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