Siskiyou County, Calif. Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue says illicit cannabis cultivation has created an environmental crisis and an increase in violent crime in his jurisdiction, and he wants Gov. Gavin Newsome to step in to provide assistance.
LaRue estimates that there are roughly 5,000 unlicensed outdoor cultivation sites on federal and private land in Siskiyou County, the news outlet reported, and says the illicit grows are linked to increased violent crime in the community.
LaRue also says that trash, human waste, fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals tied to the illegal cultivation sites have created an environmental crisis in Siskiyou County, according to Action News Now.
“As Sheriff, I call on [Gov. Gavin Newsom] to declare a STATE OF EMERGENCY and acknowledge the rampant black market industry endangering our communities,” LaRue said May 16 in a tweet.
California lawmakers are taking notice of the issues stemming from illegal cannabis cultivation in the state, with several bills pending in Sacramento to crack down on illicit grows.
Rep. Thurston Smith, R-Apple Valley, introduced Assembly Bill 1725 earlier this year to classify unlicensed cannabis cultivation as a felony, rolling back the provisions in Proposition 64, California’s adult-use cannabis legalization law, that deem growing any number of plants without a license a misdemeanor.
Smith has also sponsored A.B. 2728 to add an additional civil penalty based on the size of the illegal grow in an effort to distinguish between minor infractions and larger, industrial-sized operations.
Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, has also put forth legislation to crack down on illegal cannabis cultivation. Her Senate Bill 1426 would address the environmental damage and water-related crimes committed by illicit growers, including the pollution of groundwater, illegal access to water conveyance or storage infrastructure, and digging unpermitted wells.
In addition, Rep. Blanca Rubio’s, D-Baldwin Park, A.B. 2421 would give county counsels and city attorneys increased authority to prosecute and enjoin water theft and water pollution.