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CFBF seeks solutions to illegal pot grows

Tim Hearden
California's largest farmers' organization wants to raise awareness nationally of the damage that clandestine marijuana growers are doing to agricultural and resource lands. The California Farm Bureau Federation seek to work with legislators and law enforcement officials to find solutions.

Capital Press

SACRAMENTO — The state’s largest farmers’ organization wants to raise awareness of the damage that clandestine marijuana growers are doing to agricultural and resource lands in California and across the country.

California Farm Bureau Federation members this month approved a policy statement that asks lawmakers to pay closer attention to the issue and calls on law enforcement to notify absentee landowners when trespass marijuana grows are discovered on their property.

State Farm Bureau members want the policy to be adopted nationally when the American Farm Bureau Federation meets next month in San Antonio, Texas.

The organization’s leaders have heard “a great deal of concern” from members about illegal marijuana grows, said Rich Matteis, a CFBF administrator.

“We’re working to draw attention to the issues the trespass grows bring, both personal safety concerns for rural people and the significant environmental impacts,” Matteis told the Capital Press in an email. “It’s important to resolve questions such as how the sites of trespass grows will be cleaned and who will pay for that.”

Medicinal marijuana is legal under California law, but experts have complained that plantings have joined drug cartels’ illegal gardens to create destructive and hazardous conditions in the state’s forests and on other lands.

Pot plantings in public and private forests not only present a threat to safety because of weapons, but they’ve wrought environmental havoc. Law enforcement units have encountered instances of growers cutting down trees and stacking them in streambeds, using deadly pesticides that have been banned in the United States and poaching wild animals, one official said during a workshop last year.

Making a policy to address the problem was the idea of Mendocino County Farm Bureau executive director Devon Jones, whose members were concerned about liability because trespass marijuana growers have been using toxic chemicals on their rangelands and resource lands, the CFBF reported.

If the AFBF’s members adopt California’s proposed policy, it will enable the state organization’s lobbyists to work with legislators to find solutions, the CFBF explained. The proposal is currently under review by a committee of state farm bureau presidents, AFBF spokesman Mace Thornton said.

Online

California Farm Bureau Federation: http://www.cfbf.com

American Farm Bureau Federation: http://www.fb.org



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