In what is perhaps a potential teaching moment for other marijuana entrepreneurs as they attempt to navigate a plethora of environmental rules, three California cannabis farmers were recently hit with nearly a quarter million dollars in fines related to water-regulation infractions.
They failed to comply with orders issued in 2016 to clean up two grow sites as part of an ongoing multi-agency enforcement effort by state officials.
Three people were fined in connection with two properties previously used to grow cannabis. The fines stemmed from construction work performed without proper permits, according to news releases from the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board.
At a Feb. 8 hearing, the board decided to levy a $150,000 fine on Kongkeo Khamvongsa and Alexandra Kensavath for not complying with a cleanup and abatement order for a property they own in Shasta County in rural Northern California.
The property was found to have created water-quality problems due to 2.6 acres of road grading and the construction of an “earthen dam,” all part of the cannabis grow site.
At the same hearing, the board levied an $83,187 fine on Teng Vang for noncompliance with a separate cleanup and abatement order, also issued in 2016 for a property he owns in Shasta County that was used for growing marijuana.
The board found that Vang had also engaged in unlicensed construction work, including building stream crossings and grading access roads.
In addition to the fines, all three are responsible for mandatory cleanup work at both sites, according to the news releases.
A similar abatement order was also issued to another nearby landowner, but that person was not fined because he complied with the directive.
John Schroyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org