California Grower, Contractor Fined for Environmental Violation

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California marijuana cultivators need to be sure they’re aware of environmental regulations, as the state is looking to crack down on growers violating rules meant to protect waterways and wildlife.

A local water board fined cannabis producer Christopher Cordes and his contractor $297,400 for illegally grading land in a way that harms surface waters in Shasta County, according to Courthouse News. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board said the grading resulted in discharges of erodible sediment that will hurt fish, birds and other wildlife.

The fine is the first under the Cannabis Pilot Project, a multi-agency effort formed to address the effects of marijuana cultivation on the environment. The project doesn’t question whether growers are properly permitted, and officials said they will not debate the legalities of cannabis production.

The grading along 3.8 acres and 1.5 miles of roads could’ve been done in a legal way, and the large fine was indicative of the”egregious nature” of the violations, a water quality control board official said.

The contractor, Eddie Axner Construction, is liable for almost $140,000 of the fines.

The company’s attorney said Axner had no part in the production of cannabis and little to do with the actual grading, and that the water board is simply making an example of his client to show off the pilot program, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.