San Bernardino County has sponsored new state legislation AB 2728 (Smith) and SB 1426 (Caballero) that will increase fines for illegal cannabis farming and target the illegal pollution of groundwater by illicit cannabis cultivators. The County is also seeking $10 million in state funding to clean up environmental damage at hundreds of illegal cannabis sites and is strongly backing several related illegal cannabis bills in Sacramento.
“Illegal cannabis farming is devastating the desert communities of San Bernardino County,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “The County is determined to stop this terrible damage to the environment and to protect the lives and property of our residents from lawless criminals.”
“I appreciate these legislators’ efforts to give law enforcement practical and meaningful tools to address illegal marijuana cultivation,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus. “I look forward to our continued collaboration as we work to address issues which affect the residents in our communities.”
California voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016, legalizing recreational marijuana and allowing the private growing of up to six cannabis plants for personal use. This ballot measure also notably reduced the penalty for illegal cannabis cultivation from a felony to a misdemeanor. As a result, local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys have struggled to arrest lawbreakers and discourage illegal cannabis farming because of their inability to jail repeat offenders.
“California law on cannabis crimes lacks serious penalties,” said Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Dawn Rowe. “If someone grows 7, 700, or 70,000 cannabis plants without a license the punishment is all the same – it is a misdemeanor. State law needs real punishments to eliminate large-scale illegal cannabis farms or rural Californians will continue to suffer.”
Published: March 21, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News