Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben van der Meer


Yuba County's medical marijuana ordinance will continue being 
enforced, but a county superior court judge ordered the sheriff's 
department tighten up its procedures when investigating a growing 
site believed to be out of compliance.

Judge Dennis J. Buckley said, however, he didn't see enough evidence 
of irreparable harm being caused to allow a temporary restraining 
order against the ordinance being enforced, as attorneys for growers 
had requested.

San Diego attorney Jeffrey Lake said during the Friday morning 
hearing a grower last week was threatened with having his home raided 
and his crops cut down if he didn't allow a sheriff's deputy to 
inspect his property.

"Except they haven't eradicated any gardens, they haven't arrested 
anyone, and they haven't put any locks on gates," Buckley said in response.

Still, Lake said, because growers could reasonably feel there was a 
possibility of those steps taking place, Buckley should make some 
kind of order to give them assurances.

After a break in the hearing, Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said 
in court he wasn't familiar with the situation Lake described, and 
said his department acts to uphold people's full rights under the law.

Going forward, Buckley said, any such investigation by the sheriff's 
department should first ask for a property owner's permission, then 
need a court-issued inspection warrant to proceed if the property 
owner refuses.

Lake said after the hearing the order left him and fellow plaintiffs' 
attorney Jonathan Finegold, of Camptonville, satisfied they'd made progress.

"Until we have the opportunity to really discuss the merits of the 
ordinance, such as whether it's even enforceable, people shouldn't 
have to worry about the sheriff kicking their door down," Lake said. 
"Our goal was to stop the arbitrary enforcement, baseless enforcement 
and intimidation by the sheriff of patients trying to cultivate."

But though the plaintiffs' attorneys said they were pleased with 
Friday's court action, they said they still believe other issues will 
ultimately force the ordinance to be dismissed as unconstitutional.

The major two issues, Lake said, are the limits the ordinance imposes 
on how many plants one can grow and the ordinance's virtual ban on 
collectives and cooperatives.

Arguing the issues during the hearing, Lake said such provisions have 
the practical effect of denying sick people medicine.

But Carl Fessenden, outside counsel for Yuba County, told Buckley the 
plaintiffs operated on a false premise for Proposition 215, which 
allows medical marijuana.

"Nowhere in the law does it say you can grow as much as you need for 
your personal use," he said, though Lake responded court rulings 
elsewhere disputed that.

"There's no ban on anything in this ordinance," Fessenden said.

Speaking after the hearing, Fessenden said he couldn't comment much 
on the grounds the plaintiffs will use to suggest the ordinance is 
unconstitutional, because he'd only received a copy of their civil 
complaint a day earlier.

Buckley set a hearing for Aug. 31 on whether to issue a preliminary 
injunction for the ordinance, which went into effect June 1.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom