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Tougher Sentences For Pot Growers Focus On Environmental Damage

NAPA (KCBS) - The U.S. Sentencing Commission has proposed tougher sentences for illegal marijuana growers whose pot farms damage the environment, particularly on public lands and in national parks.

The new sentencing guidelines released on April 10 include stronger penalties for trespassing on public lands, diverting streams for irrigation and applying toxic pesticides and fertilizers to marijuana crops.

"When they do this, it's just devastating to the environment. They de-water streams. Those streams are used for fish to spawn. The fertilizers that they use leach into the remaining water, said Congressman Mike Thompson, whose district includes Sonoma County.

Tougher Sentences For Pot Growers Focus On Environmental Damage

Millions of pot plants are confiscated each year from federal lands, Thompson said, including state and county parks.

He and other lawmakers who issued a joint statement applauding the stricter penalties, including Rep. Jared Huffman of Marin County and Rep. Sam Farr of Carmel, noted the threat illegal marijuana grows pose to hikers and others who unwittingly stumble across a pot plantation.

"A couple of years ago, we had the big fire. We had pot growers shooting at the firefighters who were trying to put out the fire," Thompson said.

The amended sentencing guidelines will take effect Nov. 1, following a six-month review.

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