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The bipartisan legislation was introduced following local reports of pesticide use in local forests.

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A new bipartisan bill could increase the punishment for those who use banned toxic chemicals for cannabis operations on public lands.

The TOXIC Act, which stands for Targeting and Offsetting Existing Illegal Contaminants, would raise criminal penalties for using these banned chemicals in illegal cannabis cultivation to a maximum of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in criminal fines. That punishment is equivalent to criminal penalties for the act of smuggling banned pesticides into the United States, according to Rep. Scott Peters.

The bill was inspired by local reports of the dangers of these chemicals.

Last year, federal officials spoke with Team 10 about the damage the toxic pesticides can do to people and land. “They were endangering wildlife and they were endangering law enforcement officers who were working to eradicate the illegal marijuana grows,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney Melanie Pierson, during a 2021 interview with Team 10.

She said the “federal laws with respect to pesticides are only misdemeanors.” When asked why the punishment was so light, Pierson said “that’s what Congress has deemed appropriate.”

“Until the laws change, that is what is out there to enforce,” Pierson said.

The bill would also authorize $250 million over five years for the Forest Service to use Superfund toxic waste remediation to help “up some of the disaster that's happening around here in California,” according to Peters.

The bill was introduced by Peters, a Democrat, and Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Republican representing the 1st Congressional District.

“We got to get [it] through the House and passed in the Senate,” Peters said. This is the kind of thing where there's a hole in the law. It's not a brand-new thing. It's just something we haven't taken care of yet. I think it'll be an easy fix.”


Source: ABC 10 News