LANCASTER – Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, was joined Thursday by California Attorney General Rob Bonta on a helicopter tour of the Antelope Valley for a firsthand view of the negative impact the proliferation of illegal cannabis cultivation sites has had on the community.
Working to bring more statewide awareness and cooperation to addressing the problem, Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, held a roundtable discussion with the attorney general where law enforcement, city officials, representatives of water agencies, and the legal cannabis industry expressed their deep concerns and discussed how best to combat these grows.
Both Wilk and Lackey represent the Santa Clarita Valley in the state Legislature.
“Residents here are facing a unique public safety crisis as a result of large-scale illegal cultivation in our community. Not only are our communities less safe, our environment is being poisoned with dangerous chemicals and our limited water is being siphoned away from residents and farmers who are already faced with intense drought restrictions,” said Wilk.
“Last month, I voted for legislation to put some teeth in our fight against these illegal grows,” Wilk said. “While this legislation is a step in the right direction, the discussion today underscored how much more needs to be done. I greatly appreciate the attorney general’s attention to this issue, his presence today in Senate District 21 and his interest in hearing from members of my community so that we can begin to more effectively deal with illegal cannabis grows.”
“Illegal grow sites harm our environment and undermine businesses that do things the right way,” said Bonta. “Together, we’re fighting to stop our waterways from being polluted and pushing back on illegal and unlicensed activity. I greatly appreciate the work of all of our partners across the state to continue to take on this challenge. Discussions like today’s roundtable hosted by Sen. Wilk and Assemblymember Lackey demonstrate that we can and will continue to work together.”
Wilk and Lackey voted in support of Assembly Bill 195, which expands the ability of local officials to go after illegal growers for water theft and water pollution and provides support to the legal cannabis industry through restructuring the cannabis tax code. Law enforcement has eradicated several massive illegal grows in the Antelope Valley, including a historic bust last summer, seizing more than $1.2 billion worth of cannabis, but as members of the roundtable noted, much more needs to be done.
“To any of those engaged in illicit cannabis grows, I want you to know we are coming after you,” said Lackey. “You’ve come after our desert and are stealing our water. You’re poisoning our land and enough is enough.”
“We are grateful for today’s discussion and the action that Attorney General Bonta, Sen. Wilk, and Assemblymember Lackey are taking on this issue. Illegal grow operations are raging across our community, harming our law-abiding residents,” said city of Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin E. Crist. “We are determined to find solutions that will help us tackle this problem and these criminals head-on in the most effective way possible. That is going to take some work and Lancaster is ready for the challenge.”