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County Sheriff, DA Pledge to Continue Fight Against Illegal Grows

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During Saturday’s Town Hall in Phelan addressing illegal marijuana farms, Sheriff John McMahon, newly appointed Sheriff Shannon Dicus, and District Attorney Jason Anderson reaffirmed their commitment to creatively attack this growing problem in San Bernardino County.

“Recent legislation changed the cultivation of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, so there are very little consequences on the criminal side,” said Sheriff McMahon. “We can go to a grow today and cite everyone there for a misdemeanor, but they’ll pay the $500 fine and be right back at it. They’ll pay that every day because they make so much money. We have to hit it in a different way.”

“I think the ultimate answer is going after them civilly by creating a County ordinance,” he added. “We need to fine them per plant — whether it’s $5,000 per plant or $10,000 per plant. That’s going to send a message.”

Sheriff McMahon thanked the Board of Supervisors for allocating over $2 million to the Sheriff’s Department to increase their presence in the community.

“Prior to July 1, we had one Marijuana Enforcement Team for the entire County. Now we have five who are ready to hit the ground running,” said McMahon. “There are over 1,000 grows that we need to go after, and the Board of Supervisors is committed to giving us the resources we need to attack this problem.”

San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson outlined his office’s plan to attack the illegal grows.

“Through our resources, we will be looking at this through a landowner perspective, which is to give individuals notice about what conduct might be going on in their land, so we can actually confront the person who has the most at stake,” said Anderson. “We’re concerned about water rights, environmental rights and the dangerous pesticides that are being used to make these crops grow. The real irony is that even our most liberal lawmakers can get behind the environment, and this is an area where we think we might actually have some common ground. That’s the way we’re going to attack it.”

Anderson said his team’s specialized prosecution unit will focus on environmental law and consumer affairs protections to address the issue.

“The old way of penalizing people for crime is continuing to go away because of the laws being passed in Sacramento," said Anderson. "We realize that to do our duty we have to be more creative, and we’re not going to rest until we get these illegal grows out of here.”

Undersheriff Shannon Dicus, who takes over responsibility as Sheriff this week, echoed his commitment to the issue.

“I want to assure you that the path the Sheriff has taken, that same path will be continued,” said Dicus. “Know that we’re keeping the course and I’ve had absolutely the best mentor I could possibly have. I know when to throw grace at a problem, but I also know when to throw a 10-pound hammer, and I’m not afraid to use it.”

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To report an illegal marijuana grow, contact the Sheriff's Gangs/Narcotics Division at (909) 387-8400 or email NARC-MET@sbcsd.org. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-782-7463, or you may leave the information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com.