SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California state senator has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to help a rural county deal with a dramatic proliferation of illegal marijuana farms by declaring a state of emergency.
Siskiyou County supervisors earlier declared a local emergency after the sheriff said his department is outmanned by the illegal farmers, who some residents complain are wrecking the environment and attracting violent crime. Emergency declarations give government officials flexibility to quickly react to natural disasters and other catastrophes and can lead to grants and other financial help.
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Republican state Sen. Ted Gaines, who represents the county, said on Wednesday that he formally asked the governor for the emergency declaration to compel state officials to help Sheriff Jon Lopey in crack down on the illegal farms. Gaines said that could include making the California National Guard available to help.
Gaines recently toured the county by helicopter with the sheriff, who says there are more than 2,000 illegal farms in the county along the California-Oregon state line about 300 miles north of San Francisco.
“The grows are vast and numerous, and it’s indicative of a community that is overrun by unlawful behavior, and of a criminal class that is in complete contempt of the law,” Gaines said.
Kelly Huston, the deputy director of the governor’s Officer of Emergency Services, said the agency is reviewing the senator’s request. Huston said there are ways state officials can help even if the governor doesn’t declare an emergency.
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Lopey said the county is “overwhelmed” by the illegal farmers, many of whom he says live in tents and other temporary shelters and some are diverting