Local

Fresno judge gives sheriff's greenlight to enforce outdoor pot ban

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A judge handed Fresno County leaders a legal victory in their effort to crack down on outdoor marijuana grows.

Starting December first -- anyone caught growing pot, even if it's for medical purposes, will be breaking the law.

Sheriff's deputies say come December first, members of their marijuana eradication team will be out enforcing the ban.

Medical marijuana growers argue if their only option is to grow marijuana indoors ... the expense alone will leave a lot of patients without their medicine.

This is all that's left of Alex Carney's outdoor medical marijuana harvest. And a judge's ruling Wednesday means he and other Fresno County growers won't be able to plant again in the spring.

Alex Carney said, "If I have to rip this out, you know the only alternative for qualified patients in the county is to collectively grow indoors."

Carney currently has an indoor grow. Still, he says converting the thousands of outdoor marijuana grows in Fresno County to inside facilities is not feasible.

"You would need hundreds of acres of warehouse space, combined with millions of dollars worth of equipment," said Carney.

In September, Fresno County supervisors passed an ordinance to temporarily ban outdoor marijuana grows.

The ban was in response to a series of robberies and shootings, including one near the city of Fresno's Roeding Park. In that case, a resident shot and killed a man who was trying to steal his marijuana.

Law enforcement says Wednesday's ruling will help keep the community safe.

Eric Schmidt explained, "What our deputies have encountered is resistance initially from the people who are growing the marijuana and then you have the neighbors who are concerned and talking about all the traffic in the area during the night, during the day."

The judge's ruling only applies to outdoor grows in the unincorporated areas of Fresno County.

An attorney representing several of the marijuana growers says she is considering filing an appeal.

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Tags:
marijuana, medical marijuana, fresno, fresno county, fresno county sheriff department, sheriff margaret mims, local, shannon handy
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