Fight the marijuana ban in Fresno County

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

I visit Fresno often for work, and people tell me that groups are challenging the ban [on growing marijuana] down there. Do you know anything?

—Ray Zen

The medical-marijuana community in Fresno, led by the Fresno Cannabis Association (, are attacking the ban on two fronts. First, it is suing to overturn the ban because the city of Fresno did not file an environmental impact report before implementing the ban.

The group kind of has a point, but I am not sure how successful this lawsuit will be because the California Environmental Quality Act reviews and EIR lawsuits are becoming seen as nuisance lawsuits usually used by radicals and NIMBYs when the law doesn’t go their way. But maybe the FCA can get a preliminary injunction and tie this thing up in court for a few years while the lawyers hammer out a deal.

The second, and more interesting, lawsuit has been filed against the city of Fresno by the American Civil Liberties Union. You heard me: the frickin’ ACLU! These guys are the big guns. The ACLU’s argument is that these total bans on growing medical cannabis go against California state law. Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420 allow qualified patients to grow their own marijuana without fear of criminal penalties. The city and county of Fresno should not be able to contravene state law. I think the ACLU has a good case.

The problem I have with Fresno, and all the other cities and counties trying to ban medical-marijuana growing, is: It doesn’t work.

Prohibition never works. I know I say this in just about every other column, but it’s still true. This is America. We do what we want. It is smarter to have reasonable regulations than to attempt the impossible. Keeping people from growing a plant that helps them stay healthy is more than a Sisyphean task: It can’t be done. Fresno has already banned medical-marijuana collectives, and with a ban on growing, how are patients going to get good medicine? Drive to Sacramento? Go to Los Angeles? Move to Stockton? Ha! Say hello to your friendly neighborhood underground pot dealer.

All that being said, this is going to take a lot of time, effort and money. The FCA is throwing a fundraiser from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, at Full Circle Brewery Co. in downtown Fresno. There will be music, comedy (I will be performing there), a raffle and other entertainment. If you can’t make it to the fundraiser, please make a donation. If the FCA and the ACLU can win their lawsuits, other activists can use those results to overturn bans in their respective cities and counties. We are all in this together.

Correction: In my last column about cannabis-infused edibles, I mistakenly stated that Tainted Inc. brand edibles were made in a home kitchen. I have been informed by owner Mickey Martin that Tainted edibles are made in an awesome 9,000-square-foot commercial kitchen. My bad.