The Board of Supervisors is expected to sign an agreement Tuesday that would provide $232,000 in federal funds for the Sheriff’s Department to bust marijuana grows on public lands throughout the county.
The agreement would allow the Sheriff’s Department to participate in the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s 2016 Domestic Cannabis Eradication Suppression Program, or DCESP.
If approved, the DEA would pay $232,000 to the Sheriff’s Department to defray costs of eradicating and suppressing illegal grows of marijuana.
The DEA has been working to suppress the growth of marijuana in the United States, which is “the only major drug of abuse grown within our (county’s) borders,” according to a report from Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
The primary goal of the the program is to investigate, arrest and prosecute those who are using public lands for commercial growing and illicit distribution of marijuana.
In 2015, the Sheriff’s Department conducted 48 operations: about 117,869 plants were eradicated, 15 firearms were seized, 17 felony arrests were made, and 9,550 pounds of trash were removed from the forest.
According to McDonnell’s report, the “use of public lands to grow cannabis causes severe damage to the environment, harming forests, streams, and wildlife population. … Illegal growers who aggressively guard their plants also pose a serious threat and safety hazard to citizens and tourists who hike and visit these public lands for recreation.”