Pubdate: Sat, 03 Oct 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Monica Vaughan


In the midst of harvest season, it's not uncommon to hear the phrase 
"a large amount of marijuana" on police radios.

While deputies work around the calendar to bust illegal grows, peak 
harvest season is also peak seizure season as the size and odor of 
marijuana plants draws the attention of complaining neighbors and 
surveying deputies, according to Yuba County sheriff's Lt. Shaun Smith.

Law enforcement officers working overtime to search gardens and seize 
this year's bounty are finding more grows on smaller residential 
properties instead of wildlands, and they're finding much bigger plants.

Marijuana plants in Yuba-Sutter are so big, in fact, the regional 
gang and drug enforcement task force, NET-5, recently had to upgrade its tools.

"We had to go out and buy a chainsaw because just using a machete was 
getting to be a lot of work," said NET-5 Commander Martin Horan.

Where full-size marijuana plants used to grow to 6 feet, deputies are 
now seeing them as high as 8 feet, with 8-inch diameter trunks, Smith 
said. He's not sure why the plants are larger, but it could be the 
strain of plant or education of the grower.

Those plants hold a lot of buds, with a high market value. Depending 
on the plant, growers can harvest from 1 pound to 5 or 6 pounds from 
one plant, said sheriff's Capt. Ron Johnson. They sell it for between 
$800 and $1,200 per pound  more if sold in smaller quantities. And if 
the buds are sold via mail or transported to the East Coast, they can 
go for up to $7,000 a pound.

That's a whole lot more than the average sale price of other 
commodities in the area  say, walnuts, for instance, at $1.50 a 
pound. But what's legal?

Proposition 215 allows people with medical marijuana prescriptions to 
grow a limited number of plants. But any intent to sell is illegal, 
and selling or donating extra harvest is illegal, Horan said.

Recently updated county ordinances place stricter limitations on 
where marijuana can be grown. Code enforcement is generally handled 
by county code enforcement officers, who work hand in hand with law 
enforcement agencies, Smith said.
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