Huffman asks for drug sentences


Congressman Jared Huffman penned a bipartisan letter to the United States Sentencing Commission last week urging a revision of guidelines for criminals charged with trespass drug cultivation on both private and public lands. Mr. Huffman, who represents largely rural northern California, pointed to the growing presence of industrial-scale marijuana operations on national forest and parklands and said that existing guidelines fail to address their long-term detrimental effects on the environment as well as on public safety. “A single 2011 law enforcement operation in Mendocino National Forest located 56 marijuana cultivation sites and removed 23 tons of trash, over a ton of fertilizer, 57 pounds of pesticides and herbicides, 22 miles of irrigation piping, and 13 man-made dams,” the letter, which comes during the commission’s amendment cycle, states. It continues: “Rural communities with large ranching, agriculture, and timber lands are particularly vulnerable to criminals trespassing to cultivate and produce narcotics. Worker safety is a growing concern, and the reclamation of abandoned cultivation sites can be both dangerous and expensive for the landowner.” Every year the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force removes hundreds of plants from parkland, and West Marin ranchers regularly find grow sites on their properties. The letter was signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, among others.