Chesbro’s Forest Protection Bill Targets Druggies – April 18, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro Press Release

Assembly Public Safety Committee approves Chesbro bill to protect public and forests from illicit drug operations

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Public Safety Committee today gave unanimous, bipartisan support to a bill by  Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast) to crack down on offenders who pollute the environment and endanger the public by growing or manufacturing illegal drugs on forest lands.

“This bill is not about the legal production or use of medical marijuana under California law,” Chesbro told the Committee. “This bill is about pollution and illegal diversion of waterways, and the increasing violence that is occurring in our forests. AB 2284 is the direct outgrowth of two hearings I held this year as Chair of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture. At the hearings, fisheries experts, the Department of Fish and Game and environmental groups described the increasing threat that illegal drug production represents, especially to endangered species such as the Coho salmon.

“In addition, violence and the threat of violence is making it increasingly dangerous for those who work in the woods and those who go there to hike, hunt or fish on public and private forest lands.”

AB 2284 would increase the penalties for those violating the law by growing marijuana, operating a meth lab or any other illicit drug manufacturing on forest lands. The bill would also, under a very limited scope, allow law enforcement to pull over and question drivers transporting irrigation piping onto or through resource lands. AB 2284’s focus is on public lands and large scale industrial timber lands, not on homeowners or small property owners.

“The Nature Conservancy supports Assemblymember Chesbro’s efforts to protect California’s forest lands, and people who recreate there, from environmental damage and public safety hazards,” said Jay Ziegler, the Nature Conservancy’s director of policy and external affairs. “Cultivation and production of illicit drugs are a growing problem on public lands and the problems associated with this expansion – including pollution, littering and water diversion – have serious consequences for fish and wildlife.”

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