It’s been called “The Emerald Triangle,” and residents and law enforcement almost all agreed that the operation they had worked out for the sale of California medical marijuana was something of a model.
But with federal authorities barging through the door at every turn, it has thrown off a well-oiled system of cooperation, safety, health and profit that benefited the entire community.
As our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys know, marijuana growers and law enforcement officials Mendocino County initially had a tenuous relationship. They, like many counties throughout the state, had growing pains after the 1996 passage of legislation that made California the first state to legalize marijuana.
But then, a couple years ago, the sheriff there agreed to stop the incessant raids on medical marijuana growers. In exchange, the pot producers agreed to have their crops inspected. They paid a $1,500 fee, they had to adhere to ordinances that required them to control the smell and how far they could be from neighbors. They were also restricted to growing 99 plants for every five acres of land. The entire operation was overseen by a board of supervisors.
This one-of-a-kind program not only made for a peaceful environment, it was profitable too – for the county. In fact, the program generated nearly $700,000 for the sheriff’s office within two years. It was working so well, in fact, that other sheriff’s offices had reached out to Mendocino County officials to learn how to copy their system.
The board’s supervisor was quoted as saying that they thought they had a system that could make everyone’s life easier, and allow law enforcement to move on to more pressing matters.
It was not to be. Enter federal authorities. Nearly five months ago now, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney General’s Office sent out hundreds of warning letters to dispensaries across the state, warning them they were in violation of federal law, threatening to prosecute landlords and warning cities they would go after them if they supported the dispensaries through local ordinances.
That has meant in Orange County, the number of marijuana dispensaries quickly plummeted from about a dozen down to one. In San Diego, the approximately 185 dispensaries is now down to about 10. In unincorporated Sacramento County, all 97 pot shops are closed.
All of this clashes with the general views of most Californians: If they are following local and state laws, let them be.
Federal authorities say their efforts came in response to cities that said the dispensaries had gotten out of control. The problem with that statement is that you have places like Mendocino County, in which local growers and law enforcement had come to a peaceful – and mutually beneficial – agreement. Mendocino County officials were not complaining to the federal government or requesting intervention.
This is just one illustration of the fact that the arguments made by the federal government regarding California medical marijuana are fundamentally flawed.
The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Los Angeles, throughout Orange County and elsewhere throughout Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Federal warning ends county truce with pot-growers, By Lisa Leff, The Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
California Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Claim Victory in Appellate Court Decision, March 2, 2012, Marijuana Lawyers Blog