LAKEPORT — with the Lake County supervisors set to talk about the interim medical marijuana ordinance Tuesday, one official contends the law helps staff address egregious activities associated with previously unregulated growing while a critic argues the county has targeted more than just environmental atrocities.
At 9:45 a.m., the Board of Supervisors (BOS) will receive an update from county staff about the status of the temporary law, which was adopted July 9.
The ordinance, which will expire Aug. 23 unless extended, limits the number of marijuana plants allowed for outdoor cultivation and bans commercial growing as well as growth on vacant properties.
The constraints depend partly on parcel size, with a maximum of six plants on land smaller than half an acre allowed on the lower end of the scale and as many as 48 plants on parcels larger than 40 acres allowed on the upper end.
County officials removed about 2,400 marijuana plants under the ordinance, according to Community Development Director Rick Coel.
The enforcement efforts, coordinated between the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) and Community Development Department, resulted in the abatement of 19 sites, “with the vast majority being vacant properties with grading violations and other more egregious health and safety violations,” Coel stated in a memo to the BOS.
Don Merrill, a plaintiff in one of the two lawsuits filed against the county and Sheriff Frank Rivero challenging the interim ordinance, said he didn’t think all of the locations targeted by county officials presented atrocious cultivating conditions.
“Once again, it’s worded to make everything look as bad as possible,” he said of Coel’s memo to the supervisors.
LCSO personnel arrested seven people for illegal cultivation activities as of Wednesday, according to Coel.
All seven people were from outside of Lake County and grew without appropriate documentation to do so, Coel stated. three of them were not U.S. citizens, he added.
Merrill, who said he doesn’t plan on attending Tuesday’s public meeting, contended county officials could have arrested the individuals without the temporary law.
“They didn’t need any urgency ordinance to abate those people,” he argued. “I wanted the county to abate these people three years ago.”
Coel stated the interim ordinance allowed law enforcement personnel “to target the most egregious cultivation sites.”
Tuesday’s discussion at the Lake County Courthouse will focus on Coel’s report on activities conducted since the ordinance took effect.
County staff plans to ask the supervisors to extend the temporary law during the Aug. 21 BOS meeting, according to Coel.