Pubdate: Tue, 23 Aug 2011
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Record Searchlight
Author: Alayna Shulman
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


After a recent helicopter ride over Shasta County showed him how many 
residents are likely growing pot illegally, a county supervisor said 
he and fellow supervisors need to be wary when reconsidering a 
moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries later this year.

At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairman Les Baugh showed 
pictures of marijuana growth he took when he accompanied Chief Deputy 
District Attorney Josh Lowery and a member of the Sheriff's Office's 
marijuana eradication team on a flight last week.

Baugh said the flyover, which was initiated by the Sheriff's Office, 
had nothing to do with the recent decision of the Anderson Planning 
Commission to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Baugh's wife, 
Susie, is a member of that commission.

Though he said he'd expected heavy pot operations were common in 
isolated areas such as Hayfork, Baugh said he was surprised at how 
many crops he saw in Shasta County.

And Baugh said he questions whether all the crops he saw, some of 
which were the size of a football field, are really being used by 
Proposition 215 patients.

"Literally, our neighborhoods have become industry," he said.

Because he suspects illegal growth and sales are overtaking rural 
Shasta County, Baugh said the board will have to be "very, very 
cautious" when reconsidering a moratorium on medical marijuana 
dispensaries in the unincorporated county that they extended in December.

"It's changing forever not just the landscape but the community," he said.

Supervisor Glenn Hawes said he sees suspicious marijuana growth in 
his rural district all the time, some of it even close to schools.

"It's too bad we can't just turn loose a little 2, 4-D (an herbicide) 
and take care of it," he said at Tuesday's meeting.

Hawes said he, too, thinks much of the marijuana cultivation in the 
county is illegal.

"I know that this stuff isn't just being used by their families," he 
said. "They're selling this stuff. It's become a problem."

Baugh said he doesn't have a solution for the problem, but he's 
concerned that marijuana growth in the county will create dangerous 
living conditions for residents.

"I was hoping that somehow Shasta County's ordinances could be 
crafted to protect residents of Shasta County from what I'm terming 
'industry' in the middle of residential neighborhoods," he said after 
Tuesday's meeting. "Basically, what I saw was that I'm too late. It's 
already there; it's already here."

Deputies are increasingly being put at risk against armed growers, 
said Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, adding that weapons are 
usually found at residential grow areas as well as those on public land.

"It's becoming much more dangerous and more violent," he said.

And while more Prop 215 patients have begun using their medical 
marijuana recommendations to grow excess pot in the last couple of 
years, Bosenko said, his short-staffed department doesn't have the 
manpower to fully tackle the problem.

"There's usually more tips than there are hours in a day and days in 
a year," he said.

Bosenko estimated that about 25 percent of tips his office got last 
year were investigated.

Saying he doesn't want to exhaust the Sheriff's Office's resources 
any more, Baugh said he will continue to stand against medical 
marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated county.

"I have never been in favor of dispensaries," he said. "I think the 
city of Redding has plenty of dispensaries. There's not a need for 
them in the unincorporated area of Shasta County."
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