Riverside County Sheriff Still Cracking Down on Marijuana Grow Operations

Despite the growing shift in public opinion toward the legalization of marijuana in California and across the country, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department wants the public to know it is still illegal to grow marijuana for profit in the county. The agency intends to ramp up enforcement efforts and arrest those in violation of the cannabis cultivation prohibition.

handcuffs3.jpgAccording to a recent news report from the Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch, police released a statement saying they have just arrested numerous people in connection with outdoor marijuana grows and have seized nearly 820 marijuana plants in Mead Valley.

Sheriff’s department officials say, so far this year, they have arrested 37 people for suspected marijuana cultivation. During these arrests, deputies have destroyed nearly 40,000 marijuana plants and seized over 250 pounds of packaged marijuana and nearly $80,000 in cash. A spokesperson for the county sheriff also claims the agency identified between 250 and 300 illegal outdoor marijuana grow operations last year alone in Mead valley, Good Hope, and Meadowbrook.

As our Riverside medical cannabis attorneys can explain, sheriff’s deputies are relying upon their interpretation of California law. Under their view of the law, California has decriminalized growing and use of marijuana for seriously ill individuals, and only then under doctor’s orders. Possession pursuant to medical marijuana decriminalization is limited to small amounts necessary to treat patient’s verified medical condition, according to sheriff’s spokesperson.

In reality, the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (California medical marijuana act or proposition 215) does allow for cultivation and possession of medicinal marijuana and medical cannabis but leaves it up to local municipalities to regulate how and where marijuana can be grown in their respective jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions, like Riverside County, have chosen to prohibit grow operations.

However, county officials are in the process of drafting new legislation aimed at allowing patients with medical marijuana prescriptions from their doctors and their caregivers to grow up to 12 plants on patient’s property for personal medical use, as long as the property is located in unincorporated areas of the county. Incorporated areas would fall under the jurisdiction of the local municipality.

Meanwhile, authorities say they will continue to increase enforcement efforts regarding outdoor grow operations and warn landowners that letting anyone else use their land to grow marijuana can lead to landowner being arrested. As the article notes, marijuana is still listed as a Schedule One Narcotic in the United States Controlled Substances Act (USCSA), though the current administration has chosen not enforce the federal law, despite it being in violation to possess any amount of marijuana.

With all the federal, state, and local laws differing on whether it is or is not legal to grow marijuana for medical purposes, it is best to speak with an experienced medical marijuana regulation attorney before investing any money in a grow operation. It is much easier to make sure things are done right in the first place than being forced to deal with harsh repercussions if the proper steps are not taken.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Pot Farms Still Illegal , Sheriff’s Officials Say, May 5, 2015
More Blog Entries:

Employment Rights of California Marijuana Patients
, Feb. 4, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog