Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jun 2016
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Ukiah Daily Journal
Author: Adam Randall


A nonprofit wildlife conservation organization has filed a lawsuit 
against the county of Mendocino, stating the Board of Supervisors 
passed its medical marijuana urgency ordinance without an 
environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Mendocino County Blacktail Association, part of a larger group 
which includes people from over 57 cities across the state, says it 
has become "increasingly concerned with the destructive nature of 
unregulated marijuana activities" within wildlands.

Among its concerns, the group cited illegal grading, the use of 
poisons and fertilizers during cultivation, theft of water resources 
and trash left behind by some growers. It also claimed the 
supervisors didn't consider the county General Plan when making their 
decision, and that zones dedicated for other purposes could be affected.

"In light of the complex nature of marijuana regulation in the county 
of Mendocino, the latest 'urgency ordinance' approved by the Board of 
Supervisors seems to be yet another attempt to act in haste before 
finding out the real impacts that commercial agricultural marijuana 
production brings to the undeveloped rural areas of Mendocino 
County," the Blacktail Association said in a statement.

County supervisors passed the urgency ordinance unanimously last 
month to amend Chapter 9.31 of the local medical marijuana code 
following the implementation of the state's Medical Marijuana 
Regulation and Safety Act, which empowered counties to implement or 
revise ordinances in regard to the new law.

As a way to encourage compliance and prevent environmental 
degradation, and to implement local permitting and registration, 
eligible growers can claim an exemption from the 25-plant rule from 
the Sheriff's Office.

No more than 99 plants can be grown on a 10-acre parcel, and no more 
than 50 plants on 5 acres of land. However, the 25-plant limit still 
stands for those not eligible under the new exemption.

Last week, the board disbanded the marijuana ad hoc committee that 
was reviewing the 9.31 ordinance, and referred the development of a 
permanent medical marijuana cultivation ordinance to its General 
Government Standing Committee.

"There's a lot of controversy around this subject," said 3rd District 
County Supervisor Tom Woodhouse, who previously served on the 
marijuana ad hoc committee with Supervisor John McCowen.

Woodhouse declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.

"I think it's important all sides have their voices heard," Woodhouse said.

The Blacktail Association said while it does support the state's new 
legislation governing medical marijuana, the impacts of the industry 
should be analyzed fairly like any other industry. The group said the 
supervisors were likely pressured to act by the thousands of 
marijuana cultivators in Mendocino County.

"The BOS should not react to that pressure by hastily creating an 
'urgent mistake' to our environment at the expense of our fish and 
wildlife," the Blacktail Association stated.
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