Pubdate: Wed, 29 Aug 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben Van Der Meer


While Yuba County's controversial medical marijuana ordinance is 
being discussed in closed-door legal proceedings, county growers said 
they're getting a negative message from law enforcement.

Several times in the last few weeks, the Yuba County Sheriff's 
Department has raided growing sites across the county, even though 
those overseeing the sites were in compliance with state law, said 
Sam McConnell, president of the Yuba County Growers Association.

"It's very confusing," he said. "We don't know why all of a sudden 
there's been so many inspections when the ordinance was supposed to 
be complaint driven."

Among the recent raids, McConnell said, were ones where 51 plants 
were seized from a home in the Edgewater subdivision, and another 
where 90 were seized in Browns Valley.

But Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said while he is not sure yet if 
the rate of raids is significantly higher in recent weeks, the 
department is responding to either complaints from residents or grow 
sites deputies encounter while in the process of other duties.

"I would say in large measure the contacts we've had have been 
inspections," Durfor said. "I'm some cases, we've had criminal grows 
that were under the guise of medical marijuana, and in those we've 
responded as we would to a criminal case."

County supervisors adopted the ordinance earlier this year after they 
and law enforcement said they've received pressure from residents who 
lived next to grows and complained about smell and possible public 
safety threats.

The ordinance included limits on the number of plants that could be 
grown, depending on the lot size, and how visible it would be from 
neighboring lots. Opponents, including the association, sued in Yuba 
County Superior Court.

McConnell said Wednesday that attorneys for the plaintiffs and the 
county were meeting to see if a resolution could be worked out on the 
suit, though he couldn't share more details on advice of his counsel.

The growing sites the Sheriff's Department raided, he said, were 
collectives, where one person was growing plants for several 
patients. The suit against the county over the ordinance said the 
lack of detail on collectives was a major flaw.

"Because they went in with criminal, not inspection reports, I really 
don't know the reasoning," McConnell said of the recent raids.

Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said if there has been any ramped-up 
enforcement lately, it would be at Durfor's discretion.

"We don't initiate our own investigations," he said, noting as 
McConnell did the county's ordinance was complaint-driven.

Durfor said there may be more inspections this year because there's 
an ordinance in place, and if current trends persist, he would expect 
this year to have a record number of inspections or contacts with 
medical marijuana growers in Yuba County.

He also said he would acknowledge marijuana may be putting off a more 
noticeable odor at the moment as plants move into the last period of 
their growing season, so more neighbors of growers might be reacting 
to the smell.

Brown said he could confirm the county was in talks with the 
plaintiffs over the lawsuit against the medical marijuana ordinance, 
but could not discuss the nature of those talks because they involve 
legal proceedings.
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