Oct 152010

A day after a judge lifted Fresno County’s emergency ban on backyard marijuana farms, county officials said they were trying Thursday to figure out just what the judge’s ruling means.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeff Hamilton verbally granted a temporary restraining order Wednesday against the county’s 45-day ban, the Fresno Bee reports. But the effect of the order won’t be known until it is formally written out, county officials said.

That could happen today, said County Counsel Kevin Briggs. The county has an opportunity to propose changes to the order that attorney Brenda Linder is drafting for the judge to sign. Linder sued the county Oct. 8 on behalf of four marijuana collectives and an individual medical marijuana user.

“Until we have the written order, it’s difficult to talk about the parameters,” Briggs said.

But Linder said the order is clear. The judge’s order means the county can’t do anything to enforce its ban, she said.

In her Oct. 8 filing, Linder sought a temporary restraining order against the county’s ban. Linder wrote that some marijuana growers already had uprooted plants because they are afraid of being targeted by the county.

Fresno County supervisors passed a moratorium on outdoor marijuana gardens Sept. 14 while they work out permanent regulation in response to potential violence surrounding the gardens.

The effects of the judge’s ruling might be minimal, because the harvesting of outdoor marijuana plants will soon be done for the season, those involved in the case said.

Evan Nebeker of the Central Valley Collective said he was happy about the judge’s ruling.

“It’s a good start,” he said. “It’s a start in the right direction.”

The Central Valley Collective is a plaintiff in the lawsuit and operates as a dispensary, with an office near Shaw and Maroa avenues. The collective also grows marijuana in an unidentified location, he said.

He said outdoor growing should be regulated, not banned.

Regardless of what happens, the county will continue to work on an ordinance governing outdoor marijuana growing operations, Supervisor Henry Perea said.

Perea said he’s received at least five complaints of people in unincorporated areas of the county, including one who said her neighbors patrol their garden with guns and have threatened her family.

“If someone legally needs medical marijuana, you don’t need 100 to 1,000 plants growing in your backyard,” he said.

The ordinance may be ready in three to four weeks and will focus on moving all marijuana growing indoors, Perea said.

Nebeker said that would be unrealistic. Many low-income patients who need medical marijuana can’t afford lights that cost between $50 and $300, special air conditioners and other equipment needed to grow the plants indoors, he said.

  One Response to “County waits for written TRO on cultivation ban”

  1. This type of Prop. 215 obstructionism isn’t isolated to Fresno County, but it is a new twist on an ongoing problem. The regulatory backlash against Prop. 215 — which amounts to the de facto repeal of a voter-approved initiative — isn’t often mentioned in the Prop. 19 debate, but it should be. Prop. 19 may be our best hope of preserving patient access to medical cannabis, even though it was designed to regulate non-medical use.

    I don’t have a problem with reasonable regulations governing outdoor cultivation, but there’s nothing reasonable about what’s going on here. If you don’t like 8-foot plants peeking out over 6-foot fences, rewrite the height limits for fences or pass regulations limiting plant height. The county has done neither and is focusing its efforts instead on an impractical, unenforceable and likely illegal ban.

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