Last week California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would levy stiff fines against illegal marijuana growers, with fines up to $40,000 for the dumping of hazardous materials commonly used in illegal grows.
Last year almost 250 raids found some 600,000+ cannabis plants growing illegally in California. And with these illegal grows come hazards to the environment, tree cutting and the disruption and even killing of wildlife.
“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,” said State Senator Bill Monning, the man behind the bill signed by Gov. Brown.
Fines are great, but illegal growers don’t care about fines, they care about profits. The key to making a real impact on illegal growing is the legalization and regulation of cannabis.
To be sure, this is not entirely California’s fault. Even if the state completely repealed marijuana prohibition tomorrow, many illegal grows would still exist to supply all the dealers in all the states that haven’t legalized. Marginalizing the black market nationwide is going to take legalization nationwide, with taxes low enough to undercut black market prices.
Illegal growers come to California for the wide-open spaces, dense forests and amazing growing weather. You don’t hear Nevada complaining about illegal grows on its land. But California needs help. As more states discard prohibition, the ability of the drug cartels to keep up the big illegal grows diminishes. With less profit comes less effort.
Such are the effects of the insidious virus known as prohibition. It enriches the criminal and the corrupt while punishing the innocent and the environment. It creates problems where there should be none, for no apparent reason. The madness will come to an end soon, but for many, the end cannot come soon enough.