Illicit cannabis operators have raked in big bucks over the past couple of decades despite strict prohibitionist laws. By 2019, the illicit market in California, the largest cannabis market in America, was worth an estimated $8.7 billion.
Even as more states legalize recreational cannabis use and dozens launch medical cannabis markets, the illicit market has proven to be too tough an opponent to beat. Most of the cannabis sales in America are still underground, funding an illicit billion-dollar industry that significantly contributes to water waste and harms the environment. Black market sales also deny states tax revenue and funnel cash to the criminal organizations behind the illicit market.
Consequently, lawmakers across the country have been keen on impeding the progress of the illicit cannabis industry. A bipartisan pair of congressmen have now filed a new bill that aims to eliminate the use of unauthorize pesticides in illegal marijuana grows in states that allow cannabis and those that don’t.
Black market cannabis growers regularly use toxic chemicals to keep their plants pesticide free. In California, the dangerous chemicals used on illegal cannabis firms hidden in forests are leaching into the ground and contaminating streams and rivers that are crucial to the state’s water supply.
The new bill, which was introduced by Representatives Doug LaMalfa and Scott Peters, will try to address this concern by providing up to $250 million in funding to the U.S. Forest Service. The USFS would use this funding to increase criminal penalties for people who use dangerous chemicals in illicit cannabis grows and to remediate areas where outlawed chemicals have been used in illegal cannabis cultivations.
The Toxic Act would levy a maximum punishment of up to $250,000 in fines and up to 20 years of imprisonment for the use of outlawed pesticides in illicit cannabis grows.
Peters stated in a press release that it was our habitats, wildlife and public health that paid the price when illicit growers used banned pesticides in their operations. He added that these dangerous chemicals posed a significant danger to endangered animal species such as spotted owls, highlighting that Forest Service agents also unknowingly interacted with the chemicals and consumers also eventually consumed the pesticide-contaminated cannabis.
Peters then noted that the Toxic Act would allow the federal government to leverage all available resources to address the harm caused by the banned pesticides that are smuggled across America’s southern border.
Hopefully, this bill will be passed and implemented so that legitimate marijuana companies such as American Cannabis Partners don’t have to be in an unbalanced contest in the market with illicit suppliers of cannabis products.
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