Fresno County supervisors voted Dec. 10. 2013, to enact a total medical cannabis ban, including all cultivation indoors and outdoors. Final approval of the ordinance is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7. (See agenda; item 33.)
Condensed audio of Dec. 10 cannabis public hearing. (Use media player or right-click to download.)
Fresno Bee coverage: Fresno County supervisors move to ban marijuana farms
Although supervisors were presented with an alternative ordinance to permit limited indoor cultivation, the board voted unanimously to give their zero-tolerance policy the force of county law. Violations can be punished as misdemeanors, but the real prizes were the heavy daily fines sought by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims. The fine for just one plant is $1,000, with an added $100 fine per day that the plant is not removed after the grower is cited. Under that scenario, a grower cited for a 12-plant garden would face a minimum fine of $12,000, plus whatever other investigative and enforcement costs the county pursued.
As a similar ordinance is enforced in Kern County, armed sheriff’s deputies (vs. civilian code enforcement officers) show up at your property and give you the option to rip your plants on the spot or get cited for the daily fines and/or criminal charges. The ordinance allows appeals to the Board of Supervisors, but those are the same folks who passed the zero-tolerance ordinance. (You don’t have to guess how that’s going to turn out.) Supervisors aren’t legally bound to hold a full evidentiary hearing, and by design the ordinance limits the ability of patients to appeal the board’s decision in Fresno County Superior Court.
The environmental assessment of the Fresno County cannabis ban is covered in a separate post. A companion ordinance removing cannabis cultivation facilities as a permitted land use is expected to be heard by the Fresno County Planning Commission on Jan. 9, although the county didn’t seek the commission’s input on the cannabis ban itself.