Mike Thompson proposes new penalties for pot farms

2013-08-05T14:35:00Z 2013-08-05T21:37:11Z Mike Thompson proposes new penalties for pot farmsKERANA TODOROV Napa Valley Register
August 05, 2013 2:35 pm  • 

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson has co-authored a bill to stiffen the penalties for environmental damage caused by illegal marijuana growers.

If approved, the Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking Act — or PLANT Act — would allow the establishment of new penalties for clear-cutting, diverting streams, dumping pesticides and causing other environmental damages in order to grow marijuana on federal lands and private property, according to Thompson and co-author Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.

While cultivation of illegal drugs is a crime, prosecutions are rare for the environmental damage, according to Thompson’s written statement. Cleaning a marijuana grow site can cost more than $15,000, according to the bill.

“These illegal grow sites are threatening lives, destroying public lands and devastating wildlife,” the St. Helena Democrat said. “There should be stiff penalties for the people whose reckless and illegal actions are causing this environmental damage. Our legislation will make sure these criminals are held fully responsible for the harm they cause.”

The bill, which was introduced a week and a half ago, is a bipartisan effort co-sponsored by two Republican congressmen, Doug LaMalfa of Butte County and Doug Lambron of Colorado.

The federal penalties would be specified once the legislation becomes law. The bill would instruct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to establish the penalties.

The proposed legislation first has to be heard before the House Judiciary Committee. No date has been set. “We hope to have a hearing soon,” Paul Arden, a spokesman for Huffman, said on Saturday.

The bill, with its bipartisan support, is not considered controversial, Arden said.

The proposed legislation intends to crack down on the use of poisons, pesticides, high-grade fertilizers and other hazardous chemicals dumped at grow sites; diversion from rivers and other bodies of water; and clear-cutting and other vegetation removal at grow sites.

In 2012, more than 900,000 marijuana plants were eradicated from 471 sites on national forest lands in 20 states from Hawaii to Virginia, according to the bill. And that’s only a fraction of the total amount of plants found on public lands.

In Napa County, drug agents eradicated a total of 29,637 marijuana plants last year, according to the Napa Special Investigations Bureau.

Generally speaking, hazardous waste dumping and illegal water diversions are the main issues associated with marijuana grows, said Pete Lucero, a representative for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Lake Berryessa and its shoreline.

In a separate interview, Jeff Fontana, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, which owns about 31,700 acres in Napa County, said the impacts aren’t just environmental. He noted the armed individuals who guard the marijuana.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(34) Comments

  1. kevin
    Report Abuse
    kevin - August 05, 2013 3:04 pm
    With record unemployment, uncontrolled deficits and muslim terrorists threatening our embassies, THIS bill is important to Mike?
  2. gettingreal
    Report Abuse
    gettingreal - August 05, 2013 5:50 pm
    Come on Mike, you know that government runs most of the drugs in this country. Why do you think we're still in Afghanistan?
  3. reportequally
    Report Abuse
    reportequally - August 05, 2013 7:40 pm
    What about all the criminals that head Wells Fargo Bank, Wall Street, and Bank America. Many people lost everything because of all these criminals.
  4. Tom74
    Report Abuse
    Tom74 - August 05, 2013 8:49 pm
    "...clear-cutting, diverting streams, dumping pesticides and causing other environmental damages..." - All of these things are already illegal. Why do you need a new bill for this? Just actually enforce existing laws! If you won't enforce the laws, and/or you won't prosecute the offenses, you can write all the legislation you want and it won't do one bit of good... other than grab headlines for politicians.
    Report Abuse
    HLMMXII - August 05, 2013 9:06 pm
    Environmentally it's probably a very good thing. Thank you for that. Hopefully one day the madness will end and the govt. will corral the use of marijuana, sort of like it has with tobacco, and booze, the *real life* "gateway drugs." * Of the 1.7 million incarcerated in this country, 850,000, a full half of the people are incarcerated on pot charges.
    There are those in our society who are personally enriched with taxpayer money provided marijuana is kept illegal, and they lobby hard hard to keep marijuana use illegal. For Gods sake, even whiskey has been used for "medicinal purposes." How about we come out of the dark ages? Responses?
  6. Old Time Napkin
    Report Abuse
    Old Time Napkin - August 06, 2013 7:46 am
    Tom74, great points. 2014 is an election year and it looks like Mike wants to make some more points with his environmentalist donors. He needs to look like he is actually doing something and is tough on crime. If he wants to clean up something he should be looking at his home away from home in Washington DC. Cleaning up the IRS, the NSA and the justice department, would be a good start.
    Report Abuse
    HLMMXII - August 06, 2013 9:48 am
    Additionally, why is such an innocuous plant and its mere existence is now a, so-called "war?" Why can't we Napans, and Napa County et al be the "progressive" ones and give in to compassion rather than politics fueled by lobby money? We really have the capacity to do better than we presently are. We are a part of the 9 SF Bay Area Counties. Maybe, embrace it? Thank you. God Bless.
  8. Solipsistic
    Report Abuse
    Solipsistic - August 06, 2013 11:03 am
    YES! Do some research and become educated on the cascading environmental destruction occurring that stems from these illegal pot farms. Here's a great starter for you: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/us/marijuana-crops-in-california-threaten-forests-and-wildlife.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  9. Solipsistic
    Report Abuse
    Solipsistic - August 06, 2013 11:04 am
    So then this isn't a problem at all?

  10. Solipsistic
    Report Abuse
    Solipsistic - August 06, 2013 11:07 am
    The reason us Napans can't be progressive is because we're still clinging to our "traditional ways" (i.e. we're ignorant and refuse to budge on our views). Marijuana is very obviously much safer than alcohol by any metric you want to use (can't overdose on MJ, your motor skills and judgment aren't nearly as impaired as with alcohol, addiction issues aren't nearly as serious, etc.) and yet it is still considered a hard drug by a lot of pea-brained old timers simply because they will not hear the truth. Eventually the voice of reason will be heard, but it will take a while.
  11. glenroy
    Report Abuse
    glenroy - August 06, 2013 1:03 pm
    With a record of destroying Lake Berryessa, our healthcare and domestic energy... it’s hard to take serious….al aqaeda is stronger today than when Thompson had the staged obamacare TownHall rally...
  12. ConservativeNapa
    Report Abuse
    ConservativeNapa - August 06, 2013 1:55 pm
    Thompson is an elitist. He is Nancy Pelosi's slave boy. Pathetic that he continues to win elections and California falls farther and farther into the liberal abyss. Lets see if the NVR has the courage to post that!
  13. Dr_Faustus
    Report Abuse
    Dr_Faustus - August 06, 2013 3:22 pm
    There's a quick fix to all of the problems Rep. Thompson mentioned: decriminalization, regulation, legalization.

    People die because the product is a black market good. The environmental degradation is an unintended consequence of congressional support for prohibition. All of the very real problems mentioned in this article are the foreseeable consequences of prohibition.

    "Government is not the solution to our problem; government *is* the problem."

    --Pres. Ronald Reagan

    I never thought I'd be quoting Ronald Reagan but in this context he's absolutely right.
  14. Darkstar
    Report Abuse
    Darkstar - August 06, 2013 3:22 pm
    We have an Islamic Jhadist shoot up an Army base killing 13 of our soldiers and it's called "workplace violence". Someone grows some weed in the forest and it's "WAR". Get your priorities straight, Mr Thompson.
  15. mrscrappalucci
    Report Abuse
    mrscrappalucci - August 06, 2013 5:51 pm
    If you don't think we have a local dope problem, just read some of these comments. Come on people. What part of "Public" Lands don't you get? These aren't your mom and pop backyard growers. They are organized cartels dumping pesticides on OUR land, diverting water from OUR streams, and poisoning OUR water table. The other half of these comments just seem high on partisan talking points.
  16. Old Time Napkin
    Report Abuse
    Old Time Napkin - August 06, 2013 6:27 pm
    Dr Faustus, regulation and legalization is strictly used by the "tokers" to get what hey want. You have to be kidding about these two words. How do regulate something that grows wild and can be grown for free? If you legalize it and try to tax it you will be hard pressed to have anybody pay taxes on something they can grow on their own and out of sight. If you think that anybody is going to willingly pay taxes on their "pot" you 're drinking way too much koolaid from the left. The same people who want to rid the world of tobacco also want to legalize marijuana. There's much more toxic substances in marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke. Seems it's a much bigger health hazard than tobacco.
  17. ConservativeNapa
    Report Abuse
    ConservativeNapa - August 06, 2013 6:28 pm
    The fact that this guy keeps getting elected is EXACTLY what is wrong with this state and this country.
  18. Landshark
    Report Abuse
    Landshark - August 06, 2013 7:47 pm
    One would have to agree with several of the comments above regarding Mr. Thompson's waste of time, effort and a congressional seat. The lifetime senator of Kalifornia, Ms. Feinstein has supported the CAMP program with Ca. DOJ using high end military equipment and experienced personnel to fight "the war on marijuana" and although the intention are good, only a small percentage of pot farms and illegal alien famers are actually apprehended and convicted.
    Hey Mr. Thompson, here is a concept; enforce the laws on illegal aliens, protect the border, enforce the laws off illegal grows, unregistered firearms and a host of others that are already enforceable. STOP WASTING OUR TAX DOLLARS ON YOUR FAILED CONCEPTS AND POOR PLANNING.
    Regarding Mr. Lucero's misleading comment; it was a consessionairs (Pleasure Cove) that had to have DTSC come in a clean up the questionable items stored above the public campsites for years, while under the AHJ of the Bureau of Reclamation. Again NO accountability.
  19. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 06, 2013 11:24 pm
    Omg Faustus. Have you lost your mind quoting Reagan? Just kidding (I think).

    Here are my concerns about cannabis (besides the environmental degradation). Cannabis is strong enough to stop cancer angiogenesis.. It causes cell death. Now this might be ok in a 50 year old cancer patient but do we really want to legalize it so that teens are using it in even greater quantities? Do we want kids who are genetically susceptible to 'too much brain pruning' adding insult to injury by legalizing something potent enough to be chemotherapy?
  20. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 06, 2013 11:25 pm
    Great response....
  21. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 06, 2013 11:48 pm
    I think approaching this from the direction of environmental damage is a great idea. Kudos to Mike Thompson.

    That said, I also agree with many of the comments here about securing our border. It will keep the cartels out but someone might step in to fill that void. However, I still think it will be easier to handle if we can get rid of cartels.

    And btw, people who chronically use pot should know that not only is it grown with dangerous chemicals but that you're putting Aspergillus flavus and other mycotoxins directly into your lungs. These mycotoxins cause liver and other cancers when consumed. I can't begin to imagine what the future health of chronic pot smokers will be. Do any of you truly believe that cartels and other pot growers are going to store pot in such a way that it won't have fungal growth?
    I doubt mycotoxins in the lungs of cancer patients is healthy either.
  22. Old Time Napkin
    Report Abuse
    Old Time Napkin - August 07, 2013 8:04 am
    vocal, maybe they make sure the pot is "organically grown". LOL
  23. Dr_Faustus
    Report Abuse
    Dr_Faustus - August 07, 2013 11:33 am
    "How do you regulate something that grows wild and can be grown free?"

    LOL. You're kidding right? In Napa?

    Because no one has ever successfully regulated agriculture. Ever.

    "If you legalize it and try to tax it you will be hard pressed to have anybody..."

    ROTFL. Oh man, this is too good.

    While funny, you're views are also very sad. Your point of view is dangerous and getting people killed. People's lives are being destroyed along with the environment, our ability to incarcerate violent offenders, and a loss of revenue.

    Prohibition doesn't work. Obviously.

    So why insist on it? Is it just spite and petulance toward so-called "left-leaning" ideas? Like the idea of freedom until someone actually uses it?

    Yet another problem we'll have to solve after the baby-boomers are no longer politically relevant.
  24. Dr_Faustus
    Report Abuse
    Dr_Faustus - August 07, 2013 11:48 am
    Actually mortality is the leading cause of cell death.

    "...something potent enough to be chemotherapy?"

    Really? You're going to compare marijuana to chemotherapy? Visit a cancer ward and see how long that argument lasts. I've come to expected better from you.

    The point is that prohibition doesn't work. It doesn't work. It has never worked and it will never work.

    "...do we really want to legalize it so that teens are using it in even greater quantities?"

    "But what about the children?! Who will think of children!?"

    That argument is so obnoxious for so many reasons. I don't use marijuana but I enjoy alcohol. Do we really want to keep alcohol legal so teens can use it in greater numbers?

    If given the choice between loosing my right to buy good beer/cider or taking the risk of a stranger's child getting drunk, I say let the kid get drunk. IF that's the kind of dilemma society wants to put on my shoulders which, IMO, it doesn't have the right to do.

  25. Dr_Faustus
    Report Abuse
    Dr_Faustus - August 07, 2013 3:21 pm
  26. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 07, 2013 3:43 pm
    Faustus, Actually I am certified to gather statistical data on cancer. Besides that, I've studied cancer, apoptosis and genes/substances which affect growth. One of the reasons I'm so fascinated with growth of towns/cities/rural areas etc, is because I see a relationship between that type of growth and the mechanisms that cancer uses to trick the body into cancer metastases. I'm fascinated by it.

    That said: here are studies you might be interested in checking out that relate to what happens to adolescent brains on cannabis:

    "Vulnerability for psychosis at ages 13 and 16 predicts cannabis use at ages 16 and 19, and cannabis use at age 16 predicts psychosis vulnerability at age 19."

    "Research has shown a connection between marijuana use and an increased risk for schizophrenia in young people who are vulnerable to developing psychosis"

    So we better tread with caution before legalizing pot.
  27. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 07, 2013 3:52 pm
    Regarding the relationship between cannabis and cell death (aka apoptosis):

    "Moreover, treatment with cannabinoid-loaded microparticles enhanced apoptosis and decreased cell proliferation and angiogenesis in these tumours".

    "Overall, the results reported here suggest that the exploration of molecular mechanisms induced by cannabinoids in cancer cells can contribute to the development of safe and effective treatments in cancer therapy."

    However, these are very controlled studies. In other words, smoking pot may or may not induce cell death in cancer patients. We just don't know yet. In the meantime, until we know more, it appears that cannabis causes cell death in cancer which means it's potentially a chemotherapeutic drug.

    Is it wise legalizing something we don't know enough about yet? Teens should be taught that they're putting a drug that's laced with chemicals and fungus into their bodies.
  28. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 07, 2013 4:06 pm
    Lol Old time. Read this....

    Medical cannabis samples collected in Los Angeles have been found to contain pesticide residues at levels 1600 times the legal digestible amount.Because the product is generally inhaled rather than eaten, any toxins it carries have an even more direct route into the lungs and blood stream. Raber noted the situation is all the more concerning for patients smoking medical cannabis, whose health problems could make them more vulnerable to the risks pesticide exposure brings -- especially if they suffer from a liver disease."

    My feelings are that we need to return to the days of conscientious Ma/Pa growers or grow it yourself (but growers better keep the mold off of it cause that's very dangerous stuff, especially inhaled). People with kids in the home under age 18 should not be allowed to grow it. Legally limit growth to a certain number of plants.
  29. Old Time Napkin
    Report Abuse
    Old Time Napkin - August 07, 2013 7:36 pm
    You still haven't answered my questions. Did I speak of prohibition. I most certainly did not. I asked question regarding how you control something that can be grown wild. You obviously could not answer those questions. So my views and questions are dangerous? Really, and who have I harmed or put n danger? Please tell me how safe it is to smoke pot vs cigarettes. .
  30. Dr_Faustus
    Report Abuse
    Dr_Faustus - August 08, 2013 9:30 am

    I'll restate my previous question: "Is it wise to keep alcohol legal so teens can use it in greater numbers?" This question isn't rhetorical. Why should I forgo the use of alcohol because someone else procreated? Why should I be thrown in jail for it? Why should I be labelled an "addict" if arrested for possession or use? Substituting "alcohol" for "pot" in this exercise exposes the absurdity of this For The Children argument. Nobody's children are worth jail time for a person engaging in negative liberties.

    Please make clear why my personal negative liberties should be restricted because someone else procreated.

    Isn't this just manufacturing a dilemma and then providing solutions for it?

    I'm sure your information is interesting but how is it related to this issue? "Potentially" chemotherapeutic is not actually chemotherapeutic. Alcohol can kill cells too.

    The 21st amendment didn't wait for a study. Prohibition does more harm than good.
  31. Dr_Faustus
    Report Abuse
    Dr_Faustus - August 08, 2013 9:46 am
    The current legal stance against marijuana *is* prohibition. It's really no different than the disastrous prohibition of alcohol in 20's and 30's. I thought we learned our lesson. In that era the cartels were called mobsters. And they murdered and killed plenty of street-soldiers as well as civilians over turf and to silence would-be "snitches." They did so in order to avoid prison time created by prohibition. Ergo prohibition not only created the mob but led to the death of innocent people. This is how your support of prohibition has put people in danger.

    We successfully regulate agriculture all the time. All agricultural products can be "grown wild" and yet there is still a viable agricultural industry that is taxed and regulated. If you're argument was sound medicinal marijuana growers wouldn't even consider growing to be lucrative investment. Further, as far as I'm aware, some smarter counties have collected good money from grow fees.

  32. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 08, 2013 12:09 pm
    So Faustus, where do we draw the line? Should we permit ANY substance to be legal? Who pay for their future healthcare when users become sick later in life due to a drug abuse habit?

    The people I know who went on to become chronic drug users all their lives rather than just being experimental with it in their youth, ALL became very unhealthy and, so far, are dying in their 50s/60s but not without a huge burden on society. They've ended out in wheelchairs, needing a lot of assistance both medically and emotionally, They may die younger but they require a great amount of public resources before reaching that point.

    Alcohol and tobacco do the same thing. Is it fair to legalize substances and then have no recourse for recouping costs (that end out burdening taxpayers)? How do we recoup costs from a group of addicts who are more often unproductive in their lives? Let's not pretend that pot doesn't affect motivation and productivity. Would you hire a pothead if you owned a business?
  33. Dr_Faustus
    Report Abuse
    Dr_Faustus - August 08, 2013 11:08 pm

    I applaud you for giving up the Save the Children argument. So I'm not sure why you would substitute it with one equally absurd.

    Let's take your point a step further. Why not restrict procreation altogether? Mortality is expensive. So lets stop the problem before it's even born.

    It's also worth considering that society shouldn't make everything illegal, and then legalize products as we go, as your arguments suggests. That would be a nightmarish land.
  34. vocal-de-local
    Report Abuse
    vocal-de-local - August 10, 2013 4:48 pm
    I've noticed a trend of hostility toward people who question the safety of cannabis.

    Do any of you wonder why tobacco companies are buying up land in California? http://www.forbes.com/sites/ycharts/2012/09/05/2112/

    Have you considered that maybe those who are the most hostile on these threads are protecting their turf?

    For those of you who make the argument that a lot of substances are also bad for you (tobacco, alcohol,. drugs etc) - at least no one is making the argument that they are 'harmless'. And that's what upsets me most of all.

    I don't really care of someone wants to smoke pot, put pesticides/fungi into their bodies as long as their medical bills aren't subsidized by taxpayers. If pot de- motivates users, I don't want to pay for social services because they can't work. So be a grown up about it and don't pass problems onto the rest of us.

    That said, let's stop suggesting that pot is harmless. We don't make that argument with alcohol, drugs or tobacco, do we.....
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick