The problem with relying on stricter punishments for lawbreakers is that they only get punished if they get caught. I'd wager that you only hear about or see 1 out of 10 illegal diggers / trespassers right now. I agree with your idea to up the charges on criminals, but I think that needs to be combined with some other factors to actually stop illegal digging/buying completely.
It's unrealistic, but the only way I can see the green only theory working would be if all states held consistent pricing so Maine through Wisconsin through Georgia was always the same. Then, you would also need the entire year buying rate pre-determined and held all season long. This way there is no incentive to hold your root longer waiting for a better price. Logistically, there is no way that could ever happen. Seng quality varies from location to location, different diggers dig better or worse, seng up north matures and drops away a month earlier than the southern states.
I don't have any real good ideas that don't have an equal number of downsides. But I enjoy reading what all your opinions are.
More would get caught if people were given a incentive to turn the illegal diggers & buyers in and then if law enforcement actually reacted to the information they received in a timely manner would make a HUGE difference. The guy headed into the woods to poach or trespass and steal is looking at what a few hundred dollars in fines maybe and 30 days tops in jail in most instances. Boy that sure is a big deterrent to stop making a yearly 20-40 lbs + dried haul doing it illegally. So if they know they are facing a confiscation of ALL ginseng dug and a minimum penalty of $10,000.00 or 10 times the value of all ginseng possessed which ever is greater that sure takes a bite out of any profit then. Cause come on as long as money's involved in a decent amount SOMEONES going to be willing to break the law to get that money. They can't get the war on drugs to make any progress and look at how many law enforcement make that a PRIORITY, so how will MORE LAWS with less enforcement than used in the war on drugs make illegal ginseng digging go down?? It won't. But stiffen the penalties to a severe enough nature and you cut out a lot of folks poaching & trespassing to steal ginseng. Not all but many will be eliminated by more severe punishment because now why worry about a few $100's in fines when you can still net THOUSANDS in profits. Not much deterrent there I feel. Then if the added a incentive to those turning others in like the IRS does on tax evaders say where each reliable lead ends up in a bust you net 10-20% of fines involved for turning them in and property owners receive 10 times the root value for the ginseng stolen by trespasser's that gives the guys a incentive to turn them in. Shoot if I was to be allowed 10 times the worth of my ginseng by catching illegal diggers on my property I would most likely add more observation equipment than I already use and unlike my entire lifetime of never telling where I have my ginseng growing and never showing anyone I might just do a interview with the local paper telling where it is so I could then help bust the illegal diggers to reap 10 times the worth of my ginseng leading to a greater profit which would mean more money to buy further land, seeds, more ginseng beds for transplanting etc... further expanding what I already have. We aren't grade schoolers anymore afraid of tattling on someone were ginseng STEWARDS looking to keep what's ours ours, and looking to promote conservation & expansion of a product of nature.
Myself I know of at least a 1/2 dozen illegal diggers in my area and see many more that I do not know throughout the year walking down the road slipping into woods that's obviously digging out of season and for 10-20% of fines & penalties I will be further inclined to catch them and turn them in. But based on my own experience telling enforcement about them now and then enforcement not even willing to come investigate I just shake my head about the illegal digger and go on my way now when I see them. Although if there near areas I have friends that ginseng in I then inform my friends of the problem in there area.
More and more laws in the drug war have sure taken the drug business down right?? so I'm sure more for ginseng would do the same right?? I don't think so.
Moneys involved so there will ALWAYS be SOME illegal activity we can't curtail, but with severe enough penalties you'll remove the average family raising non-drug using poacher from the picture, and with the proper enticement those illegal diggers will see the profit in turning in the other illegal diggers, rogue buyers & licensed buyers buying the illegal root.
The war on drugs is a failure as done and the last thing we need is a war on ginseng to begin.
I'm glad I have good relations with all the legal diggers & buyers I know ( except for the chap that was busted using illegal doctored scales took them 3 years after I informed law enforcement of the discrepancy with his scales before something happened and I feel it only happened then because it was a year that the Fed's cooperated with Indiana DNR to catch ginseng bought out of season which he was also caught in ) and I don't want further regulations placed on them or me that are ineffective to try and stop the money grubbers from digging illegally that are in effect not going to work ( Look at the war on drugs it certainly hasn't worked ) Instead dial in the regulations better. Enforce what's there, increase incentive of others to stop it with rewards & portions of penalties. In regards to making it more sustainable make Federal export law that all roots must be a minimum of 10 years old. Then the diggers in states that allow 5-9 year old plants be harvested will no longer have a reason to dig them as know one will want to buy them and the states that allow ANY 3 prong plant to be legal ( this means as young as 3 year plants are legal ) would no longer have diggers digging them since the market has no use to buy them since anything under 10 years couldn't be exported.