San Bernardino Sheriff Urges Lawmakers to Stiffen Penalties for Illegal Marijuana Grows

In a letter to state lawmakers, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus recently urged stiffer state penalties for illegal marijuana cultivation. Her plea comes amid an explosion in unlicensed grows in remote areas of San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

The letter reads in part:

Illegal cannabis cultivation is having a deep, broad, and devastating impact on citizens in our county. Unpermitted growers want to avoid detection and often choose rural areas as prime places to hide their operations. These cannabis cultivations cause environmental issues (i.e., drop of well water levels, destroy our local desert, and kill wildlife by the toxic pesticides).
San Bernardino County currently has 1,085 known illegal cannabis cultivation locations within our jurisdiction and several unidentified illegal cultivation locations. Those cultivation sites range in size from one greenhouse to more than 200 greenhouses. In each known illegal cannabis cultivation location, water was being illegally pumped out of fire hydrants, and illegal water wells were being drilled into the ground…

States that permit cannabis cultivation make it a felony to cultivate cannabis illegally. Two cities in our county, Adelanto and Needles, permit cannabis cultivation. The remaining cities in our county and the unincorporated areas of the county do not allow cannabis cultivation. Penalties for these illegal cannabis cultivations have been changed from a felony to a misdemeanor, which is not substantial for this type of crime.

The San Bernardino Board of Supervisors has already made similar appeals. In a unanimous vote two months ago, the board adopted a resolution asking the Legislature to reinstate felony status for illegal cannabis cultivation.