July 25

In this June 28, 2012 file photo, Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., speaks at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) has the unmitigated gall to turn away from his responsibilities as a federal legislator and stoop to push legislation that blocks the District of Columbia from spending its local funds on decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. He’s doing this, even as criminals are cultivating pot on federal land to a fare-thee-well.

You heard me correctly. Instead of doing something about the millions of illegal marijuana plants being grown on public lands in western states, particularly California, the Eastern Shore Republican prefers to assault home rule in our nation’s capital. Maybe it’s because sophisticated and ruthless drug traffickers are a bit too much for Harris to take on. Beating up on the District is easier, and much more fun, I guess. What isn’t guesswork is the damage to federal land caused by the illegal plantations, It is, in a word, devastating.

Don’t take my word for it: Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Harris’ colleague in the House, knows the problem well. Huffman, according to The Times Standard (which covers California’s North Coast), recently sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag urging her to devote more resources to prosecuting illegal pot growers on US property. Huffman told the federal prosecutor: “Large trespass marijuana operations endanger the public with violence and threats of wildfires, pollute streams and wetlands, poison wildlife, fund criminal drug trafficking organizations, and undo significant federal, state, and private investment in the landscape.”

He added: “In addition, these operations are exacerbating water shortages and conflicts in this critical drought because they invariably include illegal water diversions and/or water theft. I encourage your office to make all prosecutorial and enforcement resources available to pursue these marijuana operations that directly threaten both the environment and public safety.”

Huffman said he believed “this should be prioritized far higher than enforcement actions against low level marijuana offenses, particularly individuals or dispensaries complying with state law.”

The Forest Service also weighed in on the problem in February with a video which describes the problem of marijuana growing in our national forests, and the harm it causes to the land, water and animals. The video also shows the shocking and dangerous toxicants and lethal weapons growers use on these sites.

The Forest Service needs help from Washington. Rep. Huffman needs help from his colleagues. Our national forests need help. Meanwhile Rep. Harris is on Capitol Hill getting his jollies by beating up on the District.