By Phillip Smith
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced an amendment to the pending federal immigration bill that would create harsher penalties for anyone growing marijuana on public federal lands.
The amendment has already won the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch announced in Tuesday statement. The committee is expected to vote on the overall bill later this week.
Under Hatch's amendment, people caught growing marijuana on federal lands would face aggravated penalties. They would also have to serve their sentences consecutive to, not concurrent with, any other sentences.
"In my home state of Utah, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement have seized more than 110,000 marijuana plants this past year," Hatch said. "These sites are typically far from the eyes of law enforcement, where growers can take the time needed to grow potent marijuana."
The amendment is only one of several Hatch has introduced to the immigration bill. He and fellow Republican colleagues have introduced numerous amendments aimed at bolstering border security and making it a higher priority than liberalization of immigration policy.