Huffman, Dan Rather tour county’s marijuana grow sites

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Law enforcement’s most recent effort to reduce marijuana cultivation is an air attack.  


“What we were able to do is set up an over flight for him today to see the scope of what we’re dealing with in Humboldt County,” Sheriff Mike Downey said.


“He” being Congressman Jared Huffman, who is visiting the North Coast specifically to see the environmental impacts from these grow sites.


“People have figured out there's a lot of money to be made,” Congressman Huffman said. “Enough that they're willing to trek into forest lands, trespass into other peoples land, set up primitive camps and grow this stuff."


On Monday, a necropsy on a fisher revealed it died from ingesting insecticide at a grow site in late July.


"It’s one of many, many examples of environmental damage at trespass grows," Congressman Huffman said.


Sheriff Downey said he hopes that by showing Congressman Huffman what they’re dealing with, people working at the Nation’s Capitol will see it too.


"The scope of the number of grows we have, the issues we have, and also the environmental issues,” Sheriff Downey said. 


And they may get help from a TV veteran. Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather sat alongside Congressman Huffman for the ride.


“I’m hoping he'll tell the story as well," Congressman Huffman said.


Congressman Huffman said the problem is people in Washington don’t see it as an environmental issue; it’s a question of morals.


"If we legalize it, we can bring it out of the shadows— out of the forests,” Congressman Huffman said. “Regulate it, have standards, tax it. I think that's the way in the long term that we'll be able to stop this."


Downey said he was never a fan of legalization, but he now sees it as the most logical fix. That is, unless the government is willing to provide money for the enforcement.


"If the federal government is going to say that any cultivation of marijuana is illegal on a federal level, then they need to come forward with the funds to help us with our efforts," Downey said.


In the meantime, Congressman Huffman has introduced legislation that would raise the penalties for trespass grows when environmental damage is present.