Pubdate: Sat, 08 Aug 2015
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Los Angeles Times
Author: Patrick McGreevy


Brown Signs 16 Bills, Including One Focusing on Environmental Damage 
 From Illegal Marijuana Grows.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed 16 bills into law, including one 
that allows steep civil fines against marijuana farms that damage the 
environment by dumping wastewater and chemicals, removing trees and 
killing wild animals.

Introduced by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), the measure grew out of 
concern that the number of illegal growing operations in parklands 
and forests had increased significantly since state voters approved 
medical marijuana use in 1996.

Last year, state agents participated in nearly 250 raids on illegal 
marijuana operations - in which 609,480 plants were eradicated and 
15,839 pounds of processed pot was seized. Investigators found more 
than 135 dams or diversions in rivers and streams that resulted in 
the theft of about 5 million gallons of water for marijuana grows.

"These practices exacerbate California's already historic drought 
conditions and severely affect Coho salmon runs and other fishery 
populations," Monning said.

Although stream diversion already is subject to civil fines, the new 
law would provide for fines of up to $40,000 for illegally dumping 
many kinds of hazardous materials into rivers and streams, and up to 
$10,000 for removing trees or trapping and killing wildlife.

"The need for flat, fertilized land to cultivate cannabis plants has 
forced some bad actors to eliminate native vegetation and destroy 
forested habitat, often bulldozing acres of land with no regard for 
its ecological effects," Monning said, adding that cleanup and 
restoration can cost up to $15,000 per acre.

Brown also signed a new law aimed at protecting neighborhoods from 
chemical explosions caused by laboratories creating methamphetamine 
and concentrated cannabis.

The measure, by Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), allows the court to 
provide additional penalties as factors of aggravation in drug cases 
where occupied residences are within 200 feet of a methamphetamine 
lab and 300 feet of concentrated cannabis manufacturing.

The measure was requested by the California District Attorneys Assn. 
because of concern that the process for making the two drugs involves 
volatile chemicals that have been known to cause explosions and fires.

Brown also vetoed a bill by Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) that would 
have required the state Department of Education to gather and post on 
its website data showing how many students are transported to school 
by bus in each district.

Vidak argued that education agencies needed the data for 
administrative purposes, including the ability to compare their 
efficiency levels with other agencies.

"While well-intended, I am unconvinced that this voluntary data 
collection would produce meaningful information or is a valuable use 
of limited resources at the local or state level," Brown wrote in his 
veto message.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom