The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 this week to possibly allow a 99 plant limit for some licensed medical marijuana growers (click here). The Board members that voted against the ordinance didn’t do it for reasons that most people would think; they did it because of an overly intrusive provision in the ordinance. The new ordinance would not allow EVERY medical grower to operate at that limit. Most growers would be held to the limit of 25 plants per parcel. However if growers wanted to do more, they could apply for an exemption for the 99 plant limit, as long as the grower gets a permit from the Mendocino County Sherriff’s Office.
And that’s where the problem lies. Will the Mendocino County Sherriff issue the permits without prejudice, or will they use the ordinance as a way to invade people’s private homes under the disguise of ‘making sure people were in compliance?’ Just because someone is a grower, who provides the best medicine and has to raise his/her limits, doesn’t mean that they should have to sacrifice their right to privacy.
Third District Supervisor John Pinches, who voted against the changes to Chapter 9.31 of the county code, said, “The people of California voted Prop. 215 for medical marijuana to be legal, but yet now we're going to get the sheriff department involved and coming into the houses and their bedrooms and stuff ... to me, that's not the whole concept of what ‘legal’ means. We're taking money away from our other services we drastically need to basically prop up the price of marijuana.”
Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax also voted against the measure. He said, “I think this document before us is one of the most intrusive documents to come out of any administrative body I've ever seen,” and called the changes “a dream document for an authoritarian state.”
Second District Supervisor John McCowen commented on the low turnout when the proposed changes were read. “On those previous occasions the room would be packed," he said. "And the room was clearly divided into marijuana proponents and marijuana opponents, and we don't have that today. I think what that proves is the fact that what was brought forward is a very balanced approach that makes a good-faith effort to address the needs of patients and also the concerns of people who have suffered the negative consequences of marijuana," McCowen said.
Applicants for the 99 plant limit would be required to buy county approved zip ties for the plants, which cost $25 each. Also, applicants could use a certified third-party in order to ensure that they are in compliance for the license. Steep Hill Labs is one of the companies that applied to be a third party investigator. "What we want to do is help local people comply with these regulations so they're not a burden," Dr. Janet Weiss of Steep Hill said. Surrounding county dispensaries are welcoming the changes, hoping that it will produce more medicine for the area. "This is an incredibly progressive step forward for Mendocino County. Before long we're going to have tested, certified organic, regulated product for medical cannabis patients." Said Matthew Cohen, of Northstone Organics Cooperative, Inc, which serves over 250 patients in the Bay Area.