California Prepares to Green the Pot Industry

In the drought-ridden state of California, illegal pot farmers have been harming the watersheds, wildlife, and endangered species with the pollution runoff from their pot growing operations.  While California was the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana, the state is now struggling with environmental enforcement as illegal farms pollute the state’s waterways, poisoning the endangered salmon, steelhead trout, and Pacific fish. Unscrupulous growers who are unwilling to pay taxes or pay for permits have remained a problem. They are also likely exporting their marijuana across state lines to sell.

Because marijuana still remains illegal under federal law, farms stay hidden in forested, undeveloped watersheds so as not to gain the attention of federal authorities. The runoff of pesticides, THC, etc. from these farms has poisoned wildlife, and the water diversions from streams to water the plants have exacerbated the state’s drought and disturbed the surrounding ecosystem that depends on the water.

Legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October calls for the state to start regulating the cultivation industry and begin issuing permits for commercial growers in 2018. California will award licenses to commercial growers who also have local permits that are approved by the city, as an attempt to discourage backwoods, illegal farms.

Californians will also vote in November on whether to approve recreational use of the drug.

Current Marijuana Laws

Medical patients and their designated primary caregivers may legally possess and cultivate marijuana for their own personal use under Health and Safety Code 11362.5 (Prop 215). The state made possession of one ounce an infraction instead of a misdemeanor back in 2011. See Ca Health & Safety Code 11357(b). Due to the passage of Prop 47 (Health & Safety Code 11357(c)),the possession of hash or concentrated cannabis became a misdemeanor instead of a felony. It is still a felony to grow marijuana with the intent to sell, distribute, or transport to another state.

Not Just a Drug Crime

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency in charge of enforcing the Clean Water Act, the penalty for knowingly discharging a pollutant from a point source into waterways or wetlands can be up to $25,000/day. Subsequent violations or convictions in a two-year time span then go up to $50,000/day. A violation of knowing or intentional discharge can be $50-$100,000/day. One California landowner was fined $297,400 for water pollution violations back in January.

San Diego Drug Crimes and Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Law Offices of David Boertje has defended many serious drug charges. Mr. Boertje is aggressive when it comes to protecting your rights and will advise you of potential defenses. We are licensed to practice in federal court and state court and can represent you in your criminal defense case during the entire process. If you  have been charged with any drug-related crime, including illegal growing or intent to sell and distribute, do not wait to contact our office today.  Our consultations are free and confidential.