State Senator requests Siskiyou cannabis cultivation State of Emergency

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey, right, listens as county resident Peter Thao translates a discussion about a cannabis related ordinance before the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in Yreka. By David Smith/GateHouse Media California

Last week the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors' declared a local emergency because of a proliferation of illegal cannabis cultivation. This week, California State Senator Ted Gaines announced in a press release that he sent a letter requesting that Governor Brown declare a State of Emergency in Siskiyou County for the same reason. 

A two-part article by David Smith about the Board of Supervisors' decision, during a meeting at which dozens of people spoke, is online at:

Below is the text of the letter to Governor Brown from Senator Gaines, who represents California's 1st District, which includes Siskiyou County and all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, and Sierra counties:

Dear Governor Brown:

I am writing to urge you to declare a State of Emergency in Siskiyou County to address the public health and public safety consequences resulting from the proliferation of illegal marijuana cultivation in the county.

All laws regarding legal marijuana cultivation are being ignored by individual criminals, crime syndicates and drug cartels, who are treating the public and private lands of Siskiyou County as their own illicit greenhouse, harming citizens, law enforcement personnel, and the agricultural community.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office, despite outstanding leadership, has simply too few officers to effectively police such a vast geographic area on its own and is in desperate need of any and all assistance the state could provide, including deployment of California National Guard personnel to assist them in their mission to stamp out illegal grows.

The illegal grows are also notorious polluters and are doing grave damage to California's environment, with indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides and rodenticides that are not monitored by California's regulatory authorities. This unchecked use of dangerous chemicals is corrupting our soil and water, in addition to poisoning animals in and around the illegal grow sites.

A recent study estimated that illegal grows on National Forest lands statewide (not exclusively Siskiyou County) contain “731,000 pounds of solid fertilizer, 491,000 ounces of concentrated liquid fertilizer and 200,000 ounces of toxic pesticides.” The waste is so concentrated that numerous law enforcement personnel have been hospitalized through exposure.

Workers at the illegal grows are also exposed to unhealthy levels of toxic chemicals and may suffer adverse health consequences as a result.

Siskiyou County ranchers are imperiled by the polluted water resulting from illegal grows and are also victimized by marijuana growers' water theft. This illegitimate industry is now threatening a legal industry that has been operating in the area for more than a century.

I recently took a helicopter tour to view illegal marijuana grows in Siskiyou County and was shocked by the scale of the activity. The grows are vast and numerous, and it's indicative of a community that is overrun by unlawful behavior, and of a criminal class that is in complete contempt of the law.

That is both sad and dangerous, and if left unchecked the explosion of illegal grows will continue to exhaust local law enforcement, threaten agriculture, and destroy communities.

The county has suffered under a rapidly accelerating spread of criminal marijuana growing operations. It is incumbent on state government to address this issue that has overwhelmed local government resources. I look forward to your prompt action on this matter.



Senator, 1st District


Also, on Sept. 10, the Los Angeles Times published an article about cannabis growing in Siskiyou County: