LaMalfa leads bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing bill to eradicate illegal marijuana grows on public lands

Congressman Doug LaMalfa issued the following statement after he and Representative Jared Huffman, Representative Salud Carbajal, Representative Hal Rogers, Representative TJ Cox and Representative Doug Lamborn introduced the Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking Act. This legislation provides resources to help local, state and federal law enforcement eradicate illegal marijuana grows on public lands and establishes a fund to restore land that has been damaged by illegal cultivation activities.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa, shown here during a visit to Susanville, introduced a bill to eradicate illegal marijuana grows on public lands.

In 2018, local, state and federal officials completed a year-long illegal marijuana eradication effort known as Operation Forest Watch. The effort resulted in the seizure of 82 firearms, 638,370 plants and more than 103,603 pounds of trash, pesticides and chemicals. The most concerning finding was the fact that 89 percent of sites were confirmed to have traces of carbofuran or methamidophos, pesticide components that are prohibited in the US.

“Our public lands are being abused and held hostage by drug traffickers with large-scale grow operations often run by international cartels,” LaMalfa said. “Marijuana legalization efforts in many states have done nothing to reduce the number of illegal trespass grows. Not only is this a clear danger to the public, but it is also harmful to the environment. Illegal pesticides, illegal water diversions, and the killing of animals has created immeasurable damage. The PLANT Act helps support efforts to combat these illegal grow sites while creating a fund to restore the damaged land. Law enforcement is ill-equipped to safely clean up these grows, but this bill gives them the resources to do it. I thank my colleagues for their support on this bill to eradicate these illegal grows and make our public lands a safer place for both wildlife and recreators.”

“Trespass marijuana grows are increasing throughout my district and the U.S., making forests and other public lands unsafe for working and recreation, threatening endangered wildlife, and contaminating rivers and streams,” said Huffman, who represents the “Emerald Triangle” of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties in northern California. “As state laws evolve to promote safe and legal marijuana growing operations, it’s important that we address the immediate threat to public safety and the environment posed by illegal trespass grows. Building on the success of our bipartisan PLANT Act of 2013, this new legislation provides local authorities with the tools needed to not only eradicate illegal grows, but effectively clean up the damage done.”

“Illegal marijuana cultivation on public, protected lands is unacceptable. Many of these illegal trespass grows use pesticides that threaten our wildlife and pollute our water. Moreover, they exist at the expense of legal cannabis producers who support our economy and follow the law,” said Carbajal. “The PLANT Act imposes penalties on activities that harm our environment and public health and then uses those funds to restore the public lands damaged by the activity. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of this bipartisan, commonsense solution.”

“For far too long, our rural, forested federal lands have become cultivating grounds for the largest illegal cash crop in the country – marijuana. Illicit drug dealers have been banking off of federal lands that are often difficult to access. The PLANT Act will provide much-needed resources to advance our skilled cannabis eradication teams who are overwhelmed by the high rates of illegal trespass grows across the country,” said Congressman Rogers. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues, LaMalfa, Huffman, Lamborn, Carbajal and Cox to introduce this commonsense legislation.”

“Illegal marijuana grows operated by heavily armed international drug cartels are destructive to our public lands and dangerous to the public. Left unchecked, these operations illegally divert water and dump toxic waste into our streams, rivers and lakes. That’s why I am proud to co-sponsor the bipartisan PLANT Act to help law enforcement authorities eradicate illegal grow sites and remediate the public lands they have damaged,” said Cox.