As a Californian, I am thrilled to discover there is actually one business our bureaucrats won’t over-regulate.

Sadly, it is medical marijuana farming. However, the lessons it offers about the effects of selective reinforcement of regulations are enlightening.

In the Merced Sun-Star, Dan Morain describes how marijuana farming practices in Butte County threaten regional water quality.

In a state that prides itself on its environmentalist sensibilities, emboldened marijuana growers have ripped out ponderosa pines and bulldozed deep terraces into steep slopes above Lake Oroville, all so their crops can receive full sun.

….Growers don’t obtain permits and take no steps to limit erosion. Although they probably are breaking law governing discharges, California Regional Water Quality Control Board officials shy away from inspecting the farms, fearing for their safety.

Because many growers display notes from doctors swearing that they’re cultivating the marijuana for medicinal purposes, Butte County law enforcement officials don’t have power to make arrests.

By way of background, Californians approved 1996’s Proposition 215, which authorized the growing of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The practice of procuring the medical marijuana is to have its farmers post doctors’ notices certifying the crops as “215-Marijuana-for-Medical”.

This news is especially troubling, because California’s eco-activists have targeted farms in the state’s famous Central Valley in an effort to protect an invasive fish species. So, our states’ bureaucrats are selectively reinforcing regulations, leaving our almond fields bare but ensuring bumper crops of pot.

But there is at least one upside to this news: California has finally managed to find a way to attract red state businesses.

Butte County is not exactly ready to eradicate its pot-growing business. While Californians are leaving the state for better business in Texas and Florida, entrepreneurs from Texas and Florida flock to California for better weather conditions to grow the weed. Medical marijuana is not legal in Texas or Florida, but business booms for the growers in Butte.

Big money involved in the business, along with the questionable disposition of the crop for medical use, make environmental enforcement lax at best. Cannabis growers get a pass on regulations while farms that raise food crops or timber are scrutinized, cited, and fined for infringements.

In conclusion, it seems that in the progressive ranking of priorities, the ability to get high is more important than the need for a clean environment. Fascinating!


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