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Pot Growing Policy Changes

 

In light of shifting rules governing the cultivation of marijuana for medical use under California’s Proposition 215, Sheriff Lorrac Craig is working with other law enforcement officials to figure out what the county’s enforcement policies will be for the 2009 growing season.

In a status report to the Board of Supervisors last week, Sheriff Craig said he believes the recent California Supreme Court ruling defining “caregiver” under Proposition 215 will “really help us a lot to weed out the others.”

The ruling issued at the end of November defines “caregiver” as someone who actually provides for the housing, health and safety of the patient and had that relationship before marijuana became part of the treatment.

 

Someone just supplying marijuana does not meet the definition of caregiver. The ruling concerned the conviction of a Santa Cruz County medical marijuana grower charged with illegal cultivation who sought a defense on the basis of being the caregiver for five medical marijuana patients.

Craig said the state Supreme Court ruling “tries to narrow the field on 215 providers as opposed to true caregivers.” He said District Attorney Mike Harper and he are talking about how they will handle cases involving individuals claiming caregiver status and growing marijuana for multiple 215 patients on their property. “If they don’t meet the caregiver definition, we’ll be looking at them for sales, but we still have to work out a strategy on how we’ll proceed on those cases.

cannabis applicationsA lot will depend on my manpower and that’s still up in the air,” Craig said. Supervisor Howard Freeman said Trinity County has been operating with some growers who define themselves as caregivers every year and he believes the state court ruling will allow law enforcement “to truly ensure it’s for patients and not for profit.”

Craig said the growers he has talked to who are trying to stay within the rules agree with the caregiver ruling. He said that with the caregiver aspect resolved, the next issue will involve marijuana collectives and cooperatives–things the county could zone against.

He noted that the City of Rocklin has a zoning ordinance against marijuana dispensaries, collectives and co-ops, “and those are strategies we need to look at for next year to prevent what we’ve had this year.” Supervisor Wendy Reiss asked if the county could also zone for areas where those activities are permissible with a use permit and payment of a fee.

County Counsel Derek Cole said he believes the county could define situations in which enforcement would not occur, and that a use permit and fee are not out of the question. Sheriff Craig said, “We’re still looking at other counties and the direction may be zoning; it may be a way to get around some of the vagueness of Proposition 215.” He said that is the direction Mendocino County has taken and several other counties are also looking into that. Freeman said that if a zone isn’t created that allows medical marijuana cultivation to occur, “you’re just chasing people to the black market.”

He added that he is aware of efforts by some to form a medical cannabis growers association in Trinity County “to establish good neighbor policies for cannabis growers and define the responsibilities of being better neighbors.

“I’m very interested in them establishing human, common decency policies.” Sheriff Craig said two groups have contacted him and both are interested in setting up storefront dispensaries for medical marijuana patients in Trinity County. He noted that the state attorney general’s opinion is that storefront dispensaries are illegal, but that co-ops and collectives, if operated according to specific standards, can fit into the scheme of things. Regarding local law enforcement capabilities, the sheriff said the county is pretty much on its own regarding the medical marijuana issue.

He said state and federal drug enforcement agencies can and do get involved in ongoing investigations of certain cases, including one that resulted in recent arrests in Trinity County. That case involves charges of marijuana sales for profit in three states by exploiting California’s medical marijuana laws. Craig said the Department of Justice developed that case “and they came to us. We can ask them to help us, but there’s no blanket, general assistance.

With {Proposition] 215, we’re pretty much on our own and all of us in the North State are dealing with the problem.
I can call Siskiyou or Shasta county for deputies, but in general, nobody is saying they’ve got the resources to come in and help us.” Supervisor Jeff Morris said, “I think we need to not think we’re on our own. We don’t have a lot of resources here, but there are a number of agencies that will respond if we ask them to and can qualify it to meet their requirements.” He added that the public is another resource “that’s probably under-utilized. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting information from all the eyes and ears that are out there.” Craig said, “We’re taking calls from the public all the time.”

Source: Trinity Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Trinity Journal
Contact: trinityjournal@dcacable.net
Website: http://www.trinityjournal.com/
Author: Sally Morris

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