Legislation Extending Time for Prosecuting Cannabis Grows on Illegal Timberland Conversions Passed Senate Committee

Downed trees on a marijuana grow raided in August 2017.

Downed trees on a marijuana grow raided in August 2017. [Photo from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department]

Press release from Senator Mike McGuire:

Senator Mike McGuire’s legislation that extends the length of time CalFire investigators and local District Attorneys can prosecute rogue cannabis grows passed its first Senate committee. This legislation is critical to protect pristine California forestland from illegal clearing during timber to cannabis conversions, destroying watersheds and polluting drinking water supplies and killing wildlife. The bear-like mammal, the Fisher, is close to [extinction] due to the practices of rogue cannabis growers.

Illegal timberland conversion to cannabis violations have jumped over 200 percent since the passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) in 2015, rising from 30 in 2015 to 99 in 2017 and over the last 20 years, thousands of acres of California forestland have been illegally converted.

This sharp increase in Forest Practice Act violations from illegal conversions of timberland for cannabis cultivation operations has restricted the ability of CalFire investigators to pursue rogue cannabis grows. To make matters worse, the current statute of limitations makes it extremely difficult for CalFire investigators to become aware of a potential violation, investigate it, prepare a report, and then refer the matter to a District Attorney or the Attorney General’s Office so that a civil action can be filed in time.

Senator McGuire’s SB 1453 extends the statute of limitations for illegal conversions of timberland to agricultural uses from one year to three years, upon the discovery of the illegal clearing which is a critical change that will assist in prosecuting these offenses.

“These illegal conversions are polluting our pristine watersheds, threatening our drinking water supplies, killing wildlife and ushering in near irreversible harm to California’s beloved forests,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “SB 1453 will give CalFire investigators and prosecutors the time they need to successfully throw the book at these rogue growers who are destroying our forests and it provides authorities time to address these terrible acts.”

SB 1453 is modeled after previous action by the legislature, which has already created a three-year statute of limitations for other similar violations, such as violations of a Fish and Wildlife streambed alteration permit, which often occur in conjunction with violations of the Forest Practice Act & Rules.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition including California District Attorneys Association, Sierra Club, Save the Redwoods, The Nature Conservancy, and many others. SB 1453 passed Tuesday afternoon in the Senate Judiciary Committee with a bi-partisan vote.

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54 comments

  • “The bear-like mammal, the Fisher, is close to extension due to the practices of rogue cannabis growers.”

    This is outrageously inaccurate. Legal deforestation is a greater factor in the decline of fishers, by many orders of magnitude. Also, many landowners in the NW have been using anticoagulant rodenticides for decades, not just outdoor growers.

    • Has anyone seen what cal fire does to land when a fire is coming? They cut all the trees down. They also don’t seed anything when they leave
      Regulatory creep is real folks every other industry should watch out

  • This guy pretends to know what he’s talking about. What a bozo. I’m no proponent of timberland converted to marijuana growing, but the real cause for rare, threatened or endangered status of wildlife, and the long-term damage to watersheds, drinking water, and the loss of native fisheries, rests squarely on logging, roadbuilding to access timber, and thousands of acres sprayed with herbicides, with diesel as the spreader. Anything else is pure manure. Read the facts, McGuire, you silly little man. Read your history. You just lost my vote.

    • Want to see what this guy is talking about? Drive down to Deerlick Springs and check out the hillsides of the headwaters of Browns Creek. We have 600 acres of clear cutting going on and 600 acres of clear cut being sprayed with herbicide. Thanks SPI (sierra pacific industries)

  • Sen. McGuire, you obviously must be talking to CalFire or CDFW biologist, not the experts for those species. Sheesh, you do know that like 99% of the publications and data for those species come from non-
    CDFW and Non-CalFire folks. Maybe look beyond the agencies that lobby you for money!

  • groba dude osnt trustafarian

    For once, the commenters are more correct. Mr McGuire, it is admirable to go after pirate grows, at any time, in any place. They do spread waste and pollution, and their ecological devastation is legend.

    Mr McGuire, you make a lot of noise, attempt to attract attention, and eventually may do something good. For now, be careful what you say. The government, formed by the rich to protect the rich and their interests, marches on, and the would-be career politicians will continue to say almost anything…

  • I have pointed out the forest destruction done by greedrushers for 15 years on here and on Loco. But I must dial back McGuire’s whiny lament. People have a right under state forestry law to clearcut 3 acres. they have a right to do some clearing for a home or a garden. When greedrushers blow out huge flats I like to see them get eradicated. But our sheriff has been giving them a pass for 2 decades now! What I see now is a government rush to restrict all rural land activity- for now on the basis of weed growing but later on for everybody. At the same time the state is seizing our water rights to water sources on our own privately-owned land- because of weed growing but yeah, it won’t stop there. I’m not a conspiracy guy but I notice a marked trend, complete with overly emotional gushing from politicians about protecting “all of our” resources. This just sounds like a new tool to levy fines and justify more funding for more investigation done by tax-funded agents. I don’t buy it.

    • The part they really hate is not collecting fees.
      Pay fees and it’s not an illegal conversion.
      Ignore the fees and it’s called environmental devastation.
      Not to say having someone make sure the job is done properly is a bad thing. But sites with fees paid and plans submitted can be the same as what’s being described as environmental crimes.
      And I can’t help but resent the seizing of water rights that property owners have had since they started the private property system.

      • Not quite. Paying fees is part of permitting that includes standards to protect the environment. But I will give you that enforcing those standards seems a much lower priority than getting the fees themselves. It’s early days yet.

    • Seizing water rights? You mean restricting the period you can take water to the times when it won’t kill all of the fish? I’m all for it. Nobody has the right to dewater streams either for personal use or for pursuit of profits.

      • A lot of people feel like they have a right to use the water on their property. I would 9/10 times agree.

      • In my 1911 I trust

        So you are all for restricting water from private residential wells that have little to no impact on the rivers and the fish? Because that is what fish and game is doing. You think they will stop at allocating a collection period for storing water at cannabis grows? I enrolled in this process and they are after my 20ft deep residential well that is tied to my house, even though I had a 140ft deep well drilled specifically for cannabis. And you think any of us are going to allow the gov’t to only do this to our practices? I’m already in court over my well and you can bet your ass that as soon as the dust settles and all the paperwork is in order, that there will be lawsuits filed to ensure that these laws that the gov’t passes, especially regarding water, will be applied equally to ALL agricultural practices in this county. Which means they will be coming for your water eventually too

  • Wait, so they are cutting down their own trees without a hall pass? Oh, and they are trying to eek out a living on their own land (that they own?)

    Remember under 3 acres is exempt but there is a hall pass requirement from Cal-Fire which Santa Rosa should tell you that they should have other things to worry about? Like fighting fires? Red tape?

    They can simply bust the people for weed, even though its legal, but if they try to harvest their own trees on TPZ, they are suddenly criminals? Does the state want their land burned down?

    Where does it state that the pacific fisher (squirrel/rat) owns their timber land?

    What self respecting fireman will enforce this BS?

    Without forest thinning and firebreaks you get fires!!! IS that what the state wants? Fires?

    I guess so… maybe the state do a full National Socialist Regalia Solute?

    Don’t we need fire breaks considering global warming and all of the huge freakin fires?

    • Fire breaks are planned in certain locations to be effective, not random illegal logging operations…

  • The real problem with many Threatened and Endangered Species isn’t logging, it’s land conversion to agriculture, to rural-residential, and to grows or dealing with invasive species. Every problem you can throw at logging is at least twice as bad with every other use you put forest land to (aside from Wilderness designation). The science is really clear on this.

    So McGuire is right to go after the illegal conversions.

  • Umm… “bear-like”? No. A fisher is in the mustelid family with weasels and martens.

  • Excuse me, but in California, if you buy property in TPZ, you get a sweet tax break because the money will be made up when/if you harvest the trees on your property. You can’t harvest them without submitting a THP to make sure the whole show is on the books and cleared all the environmental laws.

    This is how it’s done. I don’t think it does enough to protect the habitat, but, clearly, it’s better’n a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, so now if these TPZ-landowners are cutting trees to grow pot, without a fully approved THP, put them in jail please.

    No, really. Decades and decades and decades of hard work by many concerned citizens and industry and agency types, ceaseless battles over habitat and profit, all that life energy to strike some sort of balance that leaves us able to eat in a healthy ecosystem, and these miserable brats are doing this?

    The locals used to fix this sort of problem the old fashioned way. What’s wrong with people?

  • Se
    na
    tor
    Mi
    ke
    For some reason this just cracks me up!

  • Nines, You know, there are some places where “the state is god”

    Venezuela and China come to mind. Maybe you and the other property rights haters should emmigrate.

    • As opposed to America, where god is found in the almighty dollar.

      • Individuality is the American god. It’s just that a lot of people believe that having the most stuff is what they individually want. It’s a simply and common choice. But worshiping individuality also offers a lot of freedom to choose different things too. Freedom is a two sides coin.

      • “Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD

  • Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.

    Nice to see more laws to counter the weed grower’s constant war waged against nature.

    If only there were several thousand officers that could sweep the area destroying every marijuana plant, and jailing anyone found growing it.

    Marijuana growers have caused so much destruction, on the day we see the last grower move away, it should become a holiday.

    Dope growers create nothing, but destruction, crime, and deserve very long prison sentences for their actions.

    • Hyperbole as usual.
      I hate it when language is misused.
      You commit language crimes every time you write.
      Maybe fining you could help pay for more enforcement of language misuse.

    • What about blondes? I hate blonde people. With their stupid blonde hair! If only we had several thousand officers to go after the blondes and all their blondedness. I say pull every blond hair and jail anyone growing it. And, um, um, holidays and long prison terms and stuff, yeah, yeah, heh,heh! What do you think beavis?

  • Veterans friend

    No one worried about “pristine” watersheds when MAXXAM was spraying 2-4 D and diesel over THOUSANDS of acres….oh, except cannabis growing tree huggers😉

  • Here is the real problem. The county and state let property including TpZ land be split and subdivided and then act all surprised when it gets developed. What did they think the new owners would do with it?

  • mcguires hometown of healdsburg got pretty trashed by vineyards and subdivisions, so he wants to make sure to protect the north state as a resource base for the next wave of Bay Area speculators and tourists. Oh, and chocolate and marshmallow kudos for the wilderness trail idea on the old hobo eel railroad. Maybe someday homeless people can push shopping carts from the grocery outlet in willits to the grocery outlet in eureka along the mighty eel(what would Judi bari say?)and then continue on to arcata to see the new bob Marley statue

  • Grow Pot not Log Redwoods

    Go get em, but wait, have you looked at Humboldt and Mando’s Corporate Coastal Redwood belts, they are patchwork of clearcuts and “selective clearcuts”….. many of the trees on cannabis farm lands are there because the land owner grew cannabis INSTEAD OF LOGGING THOSE LANDS……. Cannabis farms have save hundreds of thousands of acres from being logged since the 1970’s………. all those lands were former “gyppo” LOGGING lands before being logged and sold in the 1960s and 1970s to back to la dears who found cannabis to be the only way to make a living…….

    • Really? I had no idea that pot grew well as an understory plant in the redwoods. If so, why is there a stack of logs next to the greenhouse? My neighbors clear cut to grow. All of them.

    • Umm, no, just…. no.

    • You have a point but the question is whether it’s more impact to the land to have a once every forty year clearcut or someone building a house and having a pack of dogs and making roads and driving in and out every day for forty years.
      I would say, tough call.

      • You are welcome to buy all the land you want, then you can do what you want with it, turn it into a nature preserve. This is America and if people want to move to the country and live with a pack of dogs it is their land use right. they paid for it not you.

        • I was discussing the relative difference in environmental impact between logging and homesteading. Replying to the last guys comment. Pay attention

        • If only the problems they create (and their pack of dogs) stayed within the bounaries they own. But then the self centered idealist always trivialized the damage done to others. I think the latest dismissal is “you’re just jealous.”

  • people cutting even a single redwood tree are selfish tards, and ruin land ownership for every other real estate investor. But invasive hardwoods?

    • What invasive hardwoods are there? Have you ever seen an old growth tan oak, they’re beautiful and a good source of food. Beauracrats and other know it alls telling responsible landowners what to do is the problem. We’ve been managing our land just fine for a really long time. I don’t need to pay somebody (who probably grew up in a town/city) to tell me how to live. I’m in the process of cutting down some redwoods that are a danger to my family and shading my house.

  • The article leaves out the costs for a permit to log. A permit to grow. A permit to live. A permit to work.
    What does it total?
    Some say that we pay more than 50% of our pay into various taxes. They obviously don’t live in NorCal where it’s more than %70, which brings the avg paycheck down to a measely paltry amount to live on. It’s not ‘higher wages’ that people need, it’s fewer permits, taxes, fines and fees, so their paychecks actually provide them a livlihood.
    Inflation is also a tax. Instead of raising an obvious tax, they raise the price of goods. The stores don’t make extra, the workers don’t make extra, only the bankers who raise the stock market makes extra.
    This guy explains it the best out of all the ones I’ve heard. For more info from him, write to his address in prison. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sypZPeIAJ4o

  • The more comments i read on these posts the funnier it gets. Yikes. Laugh a minute. So obvious that the pro weed comments are all from out of state greenrushers that have been here less than 5 years. The end is coming for you guys. Get ready.

  • McGuire is off the mark with this one! I was told by a number of CDF Forester’s you actually do not need a TCP if the you do not sell or barter the timber. It’s not the 2-3 acre conversions that has impacted the watersheds and the martin. It’s 100 years of industrial logging with little oversight until the last 20 – 25 years. Even today’s logging practices have a greater impact than the small fragmented conversions. McGuire needs to remember that 1000’s of acres of timberland were converted for the wine vineyards in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. Most cannabis conversions involve tanoak which is really a weed, In fact some believe that Sudden Oak disease is the environments natural selection process to kill the tanoak. Also remember you are allowed, in fact encouraged, to remove trees for fire danger within 150 feet of your house and outbuildings. That’s at least two acres.

    • In my little neighborhood, it’s contiguous clearing of mostly redwood. Parcel after parcel. And there were fishers here in a place previously logged at least three times until recently.

    • Tan Oak Is “a weed”? Not to the people who cultivated and were kept alive by oak forests for thousands of years: keystone species is more like it. When the Leather industry moved in on the cheap easy source of tannins (hence the name), they decimated the oaks with the same contempt they had for the First People here. “Some people think” Sudden Oak Death is a consequence of abandoning the native practice of controlled burning to clear the true invasive species…

      • So the native american’s manipulation of the environment was good while the current manipulation was bad? Every group takes from the land what they can. The difference is now that the most recent immigrants are able to take more and have groups writing protests about it.

      • Kato: Firewood is racist now…? as is farming…? as a part native american, I get to have the white eye take my land and then take it again after I repurchased it legally… wow.

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