Tulare Co approves changes to pot growing enforcement

FRESNO, Calif.

Medical marijuana grows that are out of compliance would normally take roughly four months for the county to shut down. Now they'll be given just ten days to pull out all their marijuana plants and shut down.

Tulare County supervisors unanimously approved new code enforcement rules allowing the county to shut down an illegal medical marijuana grow in 30 to 45 days.

Previously the time frame to cite, prosecute and abate an illegal grow was between 120 and 160 days.

"This isn't about medical marijuana this is about public safety. I don't want anyone to get confused about the issue," Tulare Co. Supervisor Allen Ishida said.

The county's Resource Management Agency presented the change to supervisors citing a rise in crimes associated with illegal medical marijuana grows in recent years.

"Specifically robberies, burglaries, assault, battery, murder, carrying of illegal weapons and the negative effect on the general quality of life in the surrounding area of such businesses or operations," Mike Spata of the Resource Management Agency said.

Spata told supervisors that giving an illegal grow four months to shut down-is enough time for them to pull the plants, process the marijuana and sell the drugs illegally. Now property owners or tenants will be given a 10 day notice to get rid of the plants. If they fail to do so they have another 30 days to pull them plus they will face criminal charges and fines.

Supervisors applauded the stricter rule, adding that the four month violation time period is normally applied to businesses and other projects that don't have the right permits.

"No one ever got shot, to my knowledge, because someone building a permit for their house to put a new fence up," Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley said.

"People are really afraid and I think we're answering and being responsible to the people that we're going to address this expeditiously," Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley said.

Action News talked to some owners of medical marijuana cooperatives and they said they agree with the county's new rule.

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