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Marijuana growing regulations needed to be strengthened

Marijuana growing regulation
The new county ordinance which shortens the time a grower of marijuana has to comply with county zoning laws was needed and should help to curb the illegal growing of marijuana in Tulare County.

County Supervisors a week ago amended the code enforcement regulations affecting medical marijuana growing, reducing the amount of time a grower has to comply with from as many as 180 days to as few as 30 days. The amendment speeds up the process and at the same time places a $765 fee and a daily fine of $100 on violators.

Officials pointed out that before when a grower was cited, by the time the administrative process was completed, the crop was harvested and any enforcement became moot. With the changes, a grower will not have time to harvest the crop.

The growing of marijuana, most of it illegally, has mushroomed and those grow sites are a threat to neighbors. Officers with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department said they identified approximately 600 grow sites last summer and anticipate they will find even more this summer. Officials said there were eight homicides connected to marijuana growing in the past 18 months in the county.

There is much confusion and controversy over the legal growing of marijuana, which is only allowed for medical purposes. However, most of those gardens found last year had far more plants than the state law allows and were obviously illegal grow sites for the purpose of selling the marijuana on the street.

Until the state Legislature acts to clean up the medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996, counties like Tulare are left alone to deal with a problem that has many residents scared because a large marijuana garden is just down the street and law enforcement is scrambling to keep up.

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