Riverside County Decides On Outlawing Marijuana Growing - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Riverside County Decides On Outlawing Marijuana Growing

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Riverside, CA -

(FOX 11 / CNS) Riverside County supervisors today will debate whether to initiate an ordinance that expressly outlaws all types of marijuana-growing operations throughout the unincorporated communities.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries is taking the lead advocating for implementation of an "interim ordinance" that would put all indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivators on notice: Don't grow here.

"In the First District alone, hundreds of marijuana groves have been observed," Jeffries said in his proposal, posted to the Board of Supervisors' policy agenda. "The proliferation of marijuana groves increases the risk of criminal activity, degradation of the natural environment, and often results in illegal electrical and water connections and alterations."

The county has an ordinance prohibiting marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated areas, but there are no specific provisions targeting marijuana grows. Jeffries noted that such activity is impliedly banned at the local level. But to find any definitive prohibition, officials have to look to the federal Controlled Substances Act.

"People are scared to death of these operations. They're scared as hell," Jeffries said during the board's meeting on July 15.

He said while engaging in a door-to-door walk through Good Hope with staff, he "personally counted eight grows." The supervisor said most of the cannabis farms are run by two well-known drug cartels, which mark their territory with graffiti left on poles and other objects. He conservatively estimated 250 grows in the First District, primarily in Good Hope, Meadowbrook and Mead Valley.

The proposed interim ordinance would have to be the subject of a public hearing, which Jeffries is seeking to hold on Sept. 9. It would take effect immediately and remain active for 45 days, giving the Office of County Counsel sufficient time to draft a permanent amendment to the county's zoning law, establishing a blanket prohibition on marijuana grows "in all zone classifications" -- agricultural, commercial, residential, etc.

According to the supervisor, thanks to a state appellate court ruling last year, counties have the authority to outlaw pot farms of any size, regardless of protests raised under the voter-approved Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program Act, both of which ensure access to cannabis, with a physician's recommendation.

Under the proposed interim ordinance, anyone who cultivates less than a dozen marijuana plants in an unincorporated community would be charged with an infraction, facing fines ranging from $10 to $200.

Anyone who cultivates more than a dozen plants would be charged with a misdemeanor, facing penalties that include fines of $1,000 or more and six months in jail.

From Sandra Endo:

Growing marijuana is illegal in Riverside but county officials want to target big growers by creating a tiered fine structure in order to use resources more wisely.

That was up for debate at the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday, where more than twenty members of the public spoke out about the measure.

The move was brought forward by Supervisor Kevin Jefferies who says he noticed hundreds of grows in his district along and he believes it increases the risk of criminal activity and destroys the natural environment.

The fine structure would escalate depending on the size of the cannbis farm.

Anyone who cultivates less than a dozen marijuana plants would face a fine ranging from $10-200 dollars. If caught cultivating more than a dozen plants would result in a misdemeanor with penalties of $1000 or more and six months in jail.

Opponents of the ordinance like Douglas Lanphere, Cooperative Patients' Services, says "prohibition is not the way to go. There should be regulations and restrictions put in place not just the lowest common denominator dictating actions of legislation." Lanphere argues the drug cartels that operate the majority of the cannabis farms are making it difficult for those who want to operate in a responsible fashion for medical purposes.

The board voted 5-0 to take up the matter at a public hearing on the matter on September 23d.

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