Armed Pot Famers Put California Environmental Watchdogs In A Bind

The use of armed guards on pot farms in the California wilderness are among the things making environmental regulation in the state more difficult, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Local officials in Northern California recently asked state regulators to step in and help protect streams and rivers from some of the damage being done by the marijuana growers, often Mexican cartels, which clear the land, divert water and poison wildlife with toxic chemical runoff.

But according to the AP, state regulators have refused because of the dangers of dealing with potentially armed growers.

“We simply cannot, in good conscience, put staff in harm’s way,” Paula Creedon, the head of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, a state agency, wrote in a recent letter to local officials quoted by the AP.

People who frequent the wilderness, like wildlife officials and hikers, sometimes report coming across armed men guarding major pot farms. The AP reported that’s one of the reasons an agency, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, gave its wardens more powerful weapons.

Correction: This post has been updated to clarify several aspects of what the Associated Press originally reported. It has also been corrected to show that wildlife wardens were the ones who recently received more powerful weapons.

Image: Shutterstock / sarra22

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zoë Schlanger is Frontpage Editor at TPM. Zoë was a TPM intern in 2011, and prior to returning here she was editor in chief of NYU Local, the alternative independent student news site at NYU. Zoë has interned at places like the Nation, InsideClimate News, The Rachel Maddow Show and Gothamist. She can be reached at zoe@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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