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Fresno County passes temporary ban on outdoor marijuana gardens

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed an emergency ordinance that prohibits anyone in unincorporated areas to grow medical marijuana outdoors. Officials say recent violence involving pot growers prompted the move.

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The Sheriff's Office will be in charge of enforcing this new ordinance. The ban is far reaching, affecting both existing pot plants and future plantings.

But legal experts and activists we spoke with say it has no teeth to it.

The Board of Supervisors is saying to medical marijuana growers, not in your backyard. What started as a plan to ban just new plants turned into a unanimous vote for an all-out prohibition.

"This is to go after the abusers of the large acreage, that's what we're looking at. We want to say not in Fresno County don't even think about it." said supervisor Debbie Poochigian.

"I would advise them to take them down today or tomorrow because we are going to come after them." added supervisor Henry Perea.

Many medical pot growers voiced their displeasure with the decision.

"Why do we continue to go after the people who are abiding by the laws instead of those who are breaking them? said marijuana co-op owner Shannon Luce.

Luce is a marijuana provider who is also part of the pro-marijuana group "NORML" which met Tuesday night at Fresno State. The activists are angry and say this prohibition comes at the worst possible time with harvest season just around the corner.

"I think to tear down people's plants four weeks, five weeks before they're ready to be usable medicine for the next year for people, i think it's terrible." Luce added.

But the law may be on their side. ABC 30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi thinks supervisors went too far in going after existing pot grows. "That's a violation of the constitution. That's called the Ex Post Facto clause. And if the county came in and ripped out those plants. Those homeowners would have a clear civil action against the county." said Capozzi.

Sheriff Margaret Mims supports the moratorium but agrees ripping out plants could put her department on shaky legal ground. "I don't want to find ourselves that situation. I want to make sure that our ordinance is solid that we do have legal grounds to do what we want to do." said Mims.

The Fresno City Council is expected to vote on a moratorium of its own on Thursday.

It's unclear if they will decide to only ban new pot plants or place a prohibition like the board of supervisors did Tuesday.

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fresno, fresno county, marijuana, medical marijuana, shooting, local
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