One to grow on
Cannabis cultivators just a couple hours north of Sacramento face new ordinances, challenges
Both the city and county of Sacramento don’t yet have ordinances regulating the cultivation of medical cannabis. But other counties north of Sacramento have or soon will implement rules for planting and harvesting pot—which could impact both the types of outdoor cannabis and also prices here in the Sacramento region.
For instance, in Tehama County, which is north of Sacramento on Interstate 5 near Red Bluff, grows are levied based on number of plants and acreage. If you have less than 20 acres, you can grow up to 12 plants; between 20 and 160 acres, you can have up to 30 plants; and on more than 160 acres you can grow up to 99 plants. A $40 fee is attached to each site.
In coastal county of Mendocino off Highway 101 near Ukiah, though, anyone can grow up to 25 plants without a permit. For more than that, the lot must be at least 5 acres in size, and a $1,500 “cooperative license” must be granted. In addition, each permitted plant requires a $50 zip tie.
In Butte County, where the city of Chico is located, its ordinance borrowed from Tehama’s lot-size regulations and added one: On lots 1 acre or smaller, only two plants can be grown. It also borrowed from Mendocino’s zip-tie program, except it calls for ties (costing $40) on all plants on lots larger than an acre. Butte County’s ordinance also added a graduated permit fee, ranging from $832 to $1,231. So a Butte County grower with a 1.5-acre lot and the maximum of 12 plants would pay $480 for 12 zip ties and $832 for a permit, equaling $1,312.
Here in Sacramento, safe-access organizations and patients’ rights groups recommend that patients or caretakers grow no more than six mature plants or 12 immature plants, in addition to up to 8 ounces of processed cannabis flowers, unless you have a physician’s approval to grow larger quantities.
In Mendocino County, as in Butte, illegal marijuana gardens are a huge problem. So when the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors passed a marijuana-cultivation ordinance there nearly two years ago, its intent was to decrease the number of complaints about legal grows while freeing up the sheriff’s time to go after criminals. So far, it seems to be working.
“This program is working only because there are people who wanted it to work,” explained Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman, referring not only to himself but also the board of supervisors and the growers themselves. “Last year we had 18 cooperatives that went through an inspection process—these are people who met the criteria that Attorney General [Jerry] Brown set forth [in his medical-marijuana guidelines].”
That means anyone else is either growing only up to 25 plants or is growing illegally in the unincorporated areas.
“In Mendocino County last year, even though we had this program going, we still eradicated 641,000 marijuana plants,” Allman said.