Phelan town hall to address community safety, illegal marijuana grows

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A town hall will be held next month in Phelan to allow residents to question elected officials about “community safety” with a focus on the illegal cultivation of marijuana.

The Phelan Piñon Hills Community Service District is scheduled to host the event at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 10 at Phelan Community Park.

United States Representative Jay Obernolte, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, Deputy Sheriff Shannon Dicus, District Attorney Jason Anderson, State Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, Congressman Thurston “Smitty” Smith and MP Tom Lackey are all ready to attend.

San Bernardino County supervisor Paul Cook was also invited, the community service district said.

The proliferation of illegal marijuana that grows in rural desert areas has been a controversial issue, particularly this year.

In February, sheriff’s deputies seized more than 6,500 cannabis plants and arrested two people while serving search warrants in Phelan.

A marijuana grow op in Phelan where sheriff's deputies served a search warrant on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

“We are very concerned about the side effects of these great crops, including the introduction of criminals to the area, water theft, garbage dumping, sewage dumping and chemical dumping,” said Don Bartz, executive director of the Phelan Piñon Hills Community Services District. “Our residents are worried, so we have set up a town hall so that they can address their concerns. We are delighted that so many of our elected officials are eager to attend and help us solve this problem. “

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has seen a 224% increase in seizures of marijuana plants and a 620% increase in firearms found in search warrants at illicit pot farms since the passage of the law. proposition 64, according to a resolution of the Board of Supervisors.

Also known as the Adult Marijuana Use Act, the proposal was passed in 2016, legalizing cannabis and reducing the penalty for cultivation from felony to misdemeanor in most cases from January 2018.

McMahon says the low penalties have helped spur growth across the county. The Sheriff’s Department said it had received reports of more than 850 illegal farms and 200 more likely unreported.

Earlier this month, county supervisors approved a budget that would set aside $ 10.4 million to address issues raised by rural communities such as growing marijuana and short-term rentals.

Assembly Member Smith said in an editorial Wednesday that he was “committed to drafting legislation that will reform our system, including turning illegal cultivation from a misdemeanor to a felony and strengthening penalties for producers that steal water and harm our environment “.

Phelan Community Park is located at 4176 Warbler Road. Residents are encouraged to email their questions to their representatives at [email protected]

Daily Press reporter Martin Estacio can be contacted at 760-955-5358 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_mestacio.


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