Growing marijuana? Feds can take your land

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno County Farm Bureau hosted the informational meeting for farmers and landowners. It comes one month after the US Attorney warned them; they could lose their property or be prosecuted if they allow marijuana plantations on their land.

Right now, just in Fresno County alone, the Sheriff's office says there are 78 marijuana grows on farmland. In some cases, the landowners don't know anything about what's being grown. But, many do. And under Federal law, that's illegal.

Assistant US Attorney Karen Escobar says when it comes to marijuana grows, she's seen it all, and has heard all of the excuses. But Escobar's office isn't interested in California's medical marijuana law. She works for the Federal government, in which case, all grows are illegal.

On Friday, Escobar was one of several people who spoke before a group of Valley farmers and landowners, including Carley Metcalf. Metcalf lives on a 1300 acre ranch. While she's cautious about who rents parcels there, she's observed some questionable activity, like what you see in this picture.

Carley Metcalf said, "Plywood and black plastic in different five-acre parcels, and that just concerns us."

Law enforcement says those are both good signs, something illegal is going on. Others include: lots of people working in the area at odd hours, and being offered more than the average lease price.

Margaret Mims said, "Give us a call. If this is going on on your property, we can help with the eviction process, walk you through the steps."

But, the main goal is to prevent the grows from starting in the first place. Another tip is to write exit provisions in the lease, so the owner can protect their rights.

Senator Tom Berryhill, who hosted Friday's meeting, says while law enforcement is paying close attention to the issue; lawmakers are doing the same.

Tom Berryhill said, "Hopefully we'll get some answers in this hearing today that are really informational, and whether or not something could come legislative from this hearing today -- we'll find out."

Authorities say, many of the grows they see are related to cartels.

If you are a landowner and know this activity is going on, but don't do anything about it, your land could be taken away.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.