Fresno's Deputy Police Chief, Keith Foster went before the city council asking for an immediate ordinance to stop outdoor marijuana growing in the city limits. He said, "What we wanted to do is prevent the cultivations from starting next year."
Foster said the city ordinance would mirror the county ordinance. It allows the current crop to be harvested, but stops new planting. The county ordinance was passed last year. Foster said it took the police department some time to come up with this measure. He said, "A number of case laws were reviewed to give us a solid foundation that's defensible in court."
The council was shown aerial photos of recent marijuana grows within the city limits. The push for the ban had support from council member Larry Westerlund. As a former prosecuting attorney he sees marijuana as a dangerous gateway drug. "Children with serious drug addiction problems hooked on meth, cocaine, opium and it all started with marijuana."
Council member Clint Olivier rejected the notion that there was a sudden emergency requiring this action.
"Bad things happen when legislatures panic, when governing bodies panic," said Olivier. "And I won't be supporting this today."
But the measure passed six to one. It takes effect at midnight, and must be renewed within 45 days. A final permanent ban is expected to be considered in April. It makes growing marijuana a violation of the citys, weed abatement ordinance. A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of from $2 to $8 hundred dollars.
An attorney representing local marijuana growers told Action News they were unaware of the city ordinance. They plan to meet Friday to decide what if any legal challenge they plan to make.