Sep 052011

Tulare County Sheriff’s Department officials have served four medical marijuana operations near Visalia, Ivanhoe and Seville with notices of violation requiring they shut down within the next 10 days.

If the owners and operators refuse to comply, the county will file for a preliminary and permanent injunction to enforce compliance, Tulare County officials announced Thursday.

The move comes nearly four weeks after a Tulare County Superior Court judge found the Foothill Growers’ Association, a medical marijuana cooperative that was previously located in Ivanhoe, violated a county ordinance adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2009. The ordinance requires marijuana collectives and cooperatives to be located on land zoned for commercial or manufacturing use within the unincorporated areas of the county, the Porterville Recorder reports.

Foothill Growers’ Association was reportedly operating on strictly agricultural land and was served with a civil suit by the county.

The cooperative has since relocated to Exeter, and the cooperative’s attorney William Romaine, says the Association is in the process of appealing the judge’s order to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Fresno within the next two months, the Foothills Sun-Gazette reports.

The county issued seven notices to owners, occupants, or lessees of four separate properties, where, according to a county statement released Thursday, medical marijuana cooperatives are operating or medical marijuana cultivation violates the requirements of the ordinance.

“Tulare County will be more aggressive in enforcing the county’s ordinances regulating medical marijuana cultivation, distribution, and operations after winning a civil injunction earlier this month against Foothill Growers,” Mike Ennis, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, is quoted as saying in Thursday’s statement.

“Medical marijuana operations like the Foothill Growers’ Association and the others who received notices of violations are a major threat to the public safety of our residents.”

Cooperatives are where two or more medical marijuana cardholders grow or distribute marijuana. As long as these comply with county zoning ordinances and do not exceed the legal limit of plants they are allowed to grow, they are considered legal operations by state law.

Those operations that exceed the legal limit of plants or are using fraudulent doctor recommends to grow the marijuana, are considered illegal and growers will be prosecuted for illegal cultivation of marijuana. The county sheriff’s department has raided several of those operations this summer, many in the Porterville area.

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