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By Kyle Jaeger Bipartisan congressional lawmakers have refiled a bill to combat illicit marijuana grows on federal lands, framing it as a way that the federal government can help protect cannabis consumers’ health from banned pesticides that are often used in unregulated cultivation.
While the idea of yet another stepped up federal effort to crack down on illegal cannabis production might seem like an extension of prohibitionist enforcement at a surface level, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) said on Thursday that the primary intent of the Targeting and Offsetting Existing Illegal Contaminants (TOXIC) Act is consumer safety and environmental protection. “No buyer should be unknowingly consuming marijuana contaminated by dangerous, banned pesticides,” the congressman said. “That’s why [Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)] and I introduced the TOXIC Act to go after these illegal, cartel-linked grow operations on federal lands.”
“The effects go well beyond the end user, endangering multiple species and posing a threat to the Forest Service agents who are tasked with cleaning up these lands,” he said. Advocates, industry stakeholders and regulators share a broader concern about the environmental damage associated with illicit grows, where banned pesticides are sometimes used and can damage the ecosystem by polluting water and soil and poisoning wildlife. In terms of consumer safety, advocates have long maintained that creating regulated cannabis markets for adults and patients, where products are subject to testing and other compliance policies, can mitigate the risks of consuming contaminated products. Peters and LaMalfa both represent California, where illicit cultivation has been an ongoing issue despite legalization.