Feb 072015

Supervisors will consider several procedural changes to the Fresno County cannabis cultivation ban Tuesday.

Billed as a housekeeping measure in the county staff report, the proposed changes attempt to clarify (and perhaps justify) the muddled procedures used by Fresno County Sheriff’s Office during enforcement operations. More than 300 gardens were uprooted by sheriff’s deputies in 2014, and more than 70 arrests were made, but in most cases no notice to abate was issued that would allow medical cannabis patients or property owners time to correct the violation.

This basic lack of due process also extends to the convoluted appeal hearings held by supervisors last year. One proposed change attempts to block recovery of court costs by people who successfully appeal their fines to Fresno County Superior Court. Several such appeals are now pending after the county board imposed fines totaling nearly $2 million against medical cannabis patients and non-resident owners of property where cannabis was seized.

In December, supervisors rejected a staff-recommended change that would have allowed for small-scale cultivation by medical cannabis patients. Two new members joined the board in January, Brian Pacheco and Buddy Mendes, and this will be their first opportunity to discuss cannabis with other supervisors in open session. The meeting is at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Fresno County Hall of Records, third floor, 2281 Tulare St.

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