Press Releases

Press releases are archived according to their release date. For press releases by topic, please see the Issue Positions page.

Washington, D.C.—Senator Orrin Hatch, member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, together with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), introduced legislation today to address the damage and dangers caused by the illegal growth of marijuana on public land.

“The illegal growth of marijuana on public lands has brought the dangers of international drug trafficking into our Utah parks and communities, and wrought havoc on our beautiful lands,” Hatch said. “This important legislation will give prosecutors the tools they need to address these problems, protect hikers and explorers, and reduce the supply of illegal drugs that find their way into our neighborhoods and schools.”

Background

In recent years, federal agents in Utah have seized hundreds of thousands of illegal marijuana plants on public land and arrested scores of growers, many of whom have ties to international drug trafficking organizations. Growers divert rivers and streams, pollute lakes and other bodies of water, cut down trees, and cause a host of other environmental problems. They also place booby traps to protect their plants, creating substantial dangers for unsuspecting hikers and explorers.

The Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking (“PLANT”) Act of 2015 increases penalties for cultivating or manufacturing controlled substances on federal land and provides specific enhancements for cultivation activities that harm the environment or create public safety hazards. 

In addition, the PLANT Act establishes a fund to restore land that has been damaged by illegal cultivation activities. This fund will be paid for through fines imposed on illegal growers, and will help ensure that any damage these growers cause to plants and wildlife is only temporary.