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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Mendocino County Eliminates Pot-Growing Permits
Title:US CA: Mendocino County Eliminates Pot-Growing Permits
Published On:2012-01-29
Source:San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Fetched On:2012-01-30 06:02:37

Mendocino County, a national epicenter of all things marijuana,
crumpled under pressure from Uncle Sam last week and stripped itself
of more than a half-million dollars in annual pot income.

The Board of Supervisors voted to cancel its novel medical marijuana
permit program on Tuesday, saying federal prosecutors had threatened
to sue the county if the program stayed on the books.

Under the 2-year-old program, the most comprehensive in the state,
Mendocino County issued permits to cannabis collectives, allowing
them to grow as many as 99 plants at a time, and the sheriff
performed monthly inspections on their zip-tied bundles of pot.

Sheriff Tom Allman's office collected $663,230 last year in fees for
the inspections, which certified that the marijuana was grown for
medicinal purposes only.

County law now reverts to a limit of 12 cannabis plants per individual.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in San Francisco, whose office's
jurisdiction includes the North Coast, declined to comment. She and
other federal prosecutors in California have been cracking down on
medical marijuana operators and overseers since October, threatening
scores with lawsuits or jail if they don't shut down.

Prosecutors say the goal of their crackdown is to eliminate cannabis
operations that have no connection to medical uses, or are too close
to schools or parks. The cultivation and sale of marijuana for
medical use is legal under a 1996 California law, but it remains
illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

Allman said that despite the loss of revenue, he has no plans to lay
off deputies. The revenue loss is not expected to affect other county
departments, officials said.

"They didn't take away all of the tools in my toolbox," the sheriff
said. "We'll still offer voluntary zip-tie permits for about $25
apiece," down from $50 under the canceled program. "Last year alone
we raised $60,000 with that.

"There is still time for more to happen between now and April, around
the growing season, when we usually collect our fees," Allman said.
"But I certainly see this as a step backward."
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