Pubdate: Sun, 21 Dec 2014
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2014 Times-Standard


The reaction of local tribal leaders earlier this month to the latest 
memorandum from the Justice Department on marijuana enforcement 
illustrates an important point:

However desirable the end of prohibition may be for the people of 
Humboldt County at large, it will not come without costs - 
decriminalizing cannabis cultivation improperly can wreak still more 
devastating damage on the environment.

Leaders from the Yurok and Hoopa tribes took pains to remind the 
public at large of this following the Dec. 11 release of the Justice 
Department memo which allows individual tribes to grow and sell 
marijuana at their discretion and directs U.S. attorneys not to 
enforce federal marijuana laws on Native American reservations 
regardless of the state's regulation.

No thanks, leaders of each tribe said, pointing to their own bans on marijuana.

"It is not just about pot, it is about much more than that," Yurok 
Chairman Thomas O'Rourke Sr. told the Times-Standard. "It is about 
environment, it is about resources, it is about water, it is about an 
ecosystem, it is about the health of our people."

Indeed, in a press release this summer announcing Operation Yurok, a 
joint tribal-state illegal grow eradication effort, the tribe laid 
out its case against illegal grows, which goes beyond simple 
trespassing: Water theft, destruction of the land and poisoning of 
the river and wildlife.

"These illegal pot farms impact every aspect of life on the 
Reservation," O'Rourke said in the release. "What used to be done 
with a pitchfork and a shovel is now done with excavators and 
backhoes. We have to protect our water and we have to preserve our 
natural resources."

While we have argued in favor of ending the prohibition on pot, 
attention must be paid to be environmental consequences. There's 
little to be gained by bringing the North Coast's pot industry into 
the light if the costs continue to be unfairly dumped on tribal or public land.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom