Fresno’s a no-go for those who grow

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

Hey, I hear Fresno is going to repeal their growing ban. What have you heard?

—Ray Zin

Hey yourself. The Fresno County Board of supervisors had a meeting last week to discuss changing their ridiculous and overbearing ban on outdoor cultivation. The way the law stands now, no one can grow any cannabis at all and those that do are subject to a fine of $1,000 per plant, plus interest. If growers would like to appeal the fines, they have to appear in front of the Board of Supervisors. As it turns out, dang near everyone would like to appeal their fines, especially landlords from out of town, seeing as there is no grace period allowed for removing plants, and the BoS is having a hard time keeping up. So they had a meeting, and surprise surprise, nothing changed. It is still illegal to grow medical cannabis, indoors or outdoors, in Fresno County. This sort of zero-tolerance policy toward medical marijuana seems to be contagious. Some supervisors in El Dorado County are looking to repeal their current growing ordinance and replace it with a total ban on cannabis growing. Last week, they decided to form a committee to look into the best way to change the law.

All of these actions are ridiculous. The Compassionate Use Act approved by voters way back in 1996 allows for cannabis patients to grow up to 12 plants for personal use. Fresno County is flying in the face of state law with this ban. Michael “Bud” Green, Fresno-based activist and journalist, told me: “This should wake people up about the severe limitations of SB 420 and the need to pass comprehensive state regulations, both for medical and adult-use. This fantasy of local regulation must be exposed for the pipe dream that it is.” He is right. As of now, we have a dysfunctional hodgepodge of local regulations that vary from city to city. This method also places an undue burden on cities and counties that have reasonable regulations. Why should people in Fresno have go to Sacramento to get medical cannabis? Why can’t patients grow 12 plants? Why can’t the Fresno County Board of Supervisors get its shit together? I wish I had an answer for you.

Yo. Any events that I should know about this winter?

—Joe Snowbird

Yo Joe! Let’s see … the Emerald Cup outdoor cannabis competition is this weekend at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. This event is always a great time with good people, good medicine and great music. Get more details at

This February, The International Cannabis Business Conference will be in San Francisco. PBS travel superstar and cannabis advocate Rick Steves will be there. Addiction specialist Dr. Carl Hart will also be there, along with many other cannabis industry insiders, politicians, scientists and activists. This conference is perfect for the, um, budding ganjapreneur. Learn more at