Senatorial showdown

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

You failed to mention the devastating impact many cannabis grow-sites have on California’s natural environment. Cultivation of cannabis on public or private land can and should be done with the utmost respect for the surrounding environment, and without harming the wildlife, native vegetation or limited water resources in the state. In the last year alone, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found 340,000 pounds of trash and close to 70 gallons of chemicals and fertilizers dumped at cannabis grow-sites, along with more than 135 diversions in rivers and streams that equated to close to 5 million gallons in stolen water. The National Park Service estimates that the cleanup costs of many of these grow-sites cost taxpayers up to $15,000 per acre. The environmental cost of those marijuana growers who choose not to follow our state’s existing environmental laws is too high to be ignored. My Senate Bill 165 allows for civil fines to be assessed against bad actors that pollute or destroy our state’s natural treasures, and provides funding for the reclamation of these sites using non-California taxpayer monies. It is disappointing that you did not take the time to read and understand the problem SB 165 is trying to address.

—Bill Monning

State Senator, 17th District

Hello, senator. Thank you for your response. I agree with you that utmost care must be taken with regard to creating environmentally friendly cannabis cultivation. I disagree with your method, as I feel you are overreacting to a small problem because of cannabis. Five million gallons of water? Is that a lot? Nope. I live in Sacramento. According to data from the State Water Resources Control Board (
) Sacramento used 2.8 billion gallons of water in June 2015. (Down from 4.3 billion in 2013. Way to go!) So while 5 million gallons sounds like a lot (especially if you say it Dr. Evil-style: Five. Million. Gallons! Bwahahahaha!) it’s not really that much water.

I am not condoning illegal grows. Anyone illegally growing cannabis on public land should be arrested and tried. Anyone, not just pot growers, but grape growers, almond farmers, etc., illegally diverting water should be fined according to laws that already exist. (Hey, look! I found a chart! www.water use.) To automatically prohibit the growing of cannabis on private land because some people stole an extremely small fraction of water is ridiculous. How much better would it be if we had clear regulations detailing ways for cannabis farmers to pay their fair share for the water they use? How much better would it be if taxpayers weren’t going to have to pay for the lawsuits that will happen? And don’t think people won’t sue. You can ask Fresno County how effective its program of prohibition and fines has been. There is a better way to regulate the cannabis industry, and your law isn’t helping. Thank you for your time.