California lawmakers are still trying to figure out how to regulate the state’s impending recreational cannabis industry, but while the debate over new rules rages on, there is one thing that the Golden State officials can agree on - a need to right the environmental wrongs caused by illegal cannabis cultivation in the Northern California hills.
According to a press release sent out by the office of North Coast Assemblyman Jim Woods, Governor Jerry Brown has allocated $1.5 million of state funds to help curb the damage done to the north coast’s environment by black market cannabis grows.
“These illegal grow sites do untold damage to forests and wildlife along the North Coast and with Assemblymember Wood’s leadership, we’re doing something about it,” Governor Brown said.
Reports from ecological scientist Mourad Gabriel, who has been studying wildlife in the region for the past 10 years suggests that illegal grow-ops are killing local wildlife with illegal rodenticide use and clearing swaths of the forests to create their cultivation sites.
“Our beautiful pristine forests have become havens for these illegal grow sites,” Assemblymember Wood said. “These illegitimate growers have continued to ignore not only state laws for farming cannabis, but have left these sites ravaged by lethal chemicals, clear cutting and thousands of pounds of trash.”
Those lethal chemicals, used to keep wildlife from destroying the valuable cannabis crops, stay in the soil at cultivation sites, and in addition to killing deer, bears, make their way into local riverways, where they kill salmon and other aquatic wildlife. The cash designated by the Governor will go directly towards helping reverse those effects.
“These funds will go to our well-established Fisheries Restoration Grant Program which was created to address declining populations of wild salmon and steelhead trout, and deteriorating fish habitat in California,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “The $1.5 million will help us continue to clean up the egregious environmental damage, specifically to California’s waterways, caused by illegal marijuana cultivation sites.”
The environmental protection allocation is part of the Governor’s May Revise budget that was released yesterday.