New Fresno pot ordinance generates cannabis complaints

Fresno narcotics officers have been called out to more than a dozen properties in the past two days, where marijuana was growing in backyards, shanty's or garage enclosures.
March 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno narcotics officers have been called out to more than a dozen properties in the past two days, where marijuana was growing in backyards, shanty's or garage enclosures. Complaints from neighbors have come from all over town, from McKinley and Cedar to Willow and Nees.

Narcotics Detective Mike Brogdon says the complaints multiplied.

"Ever since the ordinance was introduced by Chief Dyer at the City Council, we are averaging about 10 a day now on marijuana issues so it's gone up quite a bit," said Brogdon.

One of the indoor marijuana growing operations busted on Friday was near Willow and Nees in Northeast Fresno. Officers found a garage full of plants and growing equipment.

Police are confiscating plants but are not issuing citations yet. Growers have 120 days to get rid of their marijuana before facing fines of up to $1,000 per plant.

Medical Marijuana advocates say the city is going overboard because state law allows marijuana growing for medical use. But ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says police have the law on their side.

"Local law enforcement should be spending time on it, because it is a violation of federal Law, and the way state law is written now it's so loose and ambiguous it's being abused, and I think local law enforcement has to still police in that area, there's no question about it," said Capozzi.

In the past two days, police have found growing operations with from 300 to more than 1,000 plants. They are taking the plants out and disposing of them, but once the 120-day grace period ends, the city like Fresno County can impose fines of $1,000 a plant.

Capozzi says those high fines could trigger legal challenges.

"That may be considered so excessive it becomes a criminal penalty, then you are entitled to a jury trial and charges to be filed. It comes into a whole different procedural aspect," said Capozzi.


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