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The 99 Plant Rule

by Tim Stelloh, March 24, 2010

By a 3-2 vote, the Supes gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a new set of pot guidelines that would allow up to 99 plants on a five acre piece of land if–and this is a mighty big if–you have the fortitude to withstand an application process  approaching environmental impact statement-type complexity. (For those financially endowed members of the marijuana biz, you can always hire a professional fine-print reader, er, consultant.)

According to the Daily Journal, Supe Colfax–who voted against the guidelines along with Pinches–laid it on thick, calling the new guidelines a “dream document for an authoritarian state.” He was presumably referring to the section of the guidelines that allows the sheriff’s office–or a “third party investigator,” paid for by the grower–to inspect your grow.

“What we’re saying is, if you are going to grow the 99 plants, law enforcement is going to have full access to your property,” Sheriff Tom Allman told KQED. “We’re going to be able to come in and inspect. We’re going to be able to see how healthy your plants are. If you have 7 pound plants, you know, you’re going to have a real problem.”

And who are those third-party inspectors?

According to the draft guidelines, that’s TBD by the sheriff. One group lobbying for the job is Steep Hill, a pot analysis lab in Oakland that was co-founded by Mendo rez David Lampach. The lab, according to a statement, would develop “electronic systems and paperwork that would be seamlessly integrated with county agencies, so that they would be able to assure that all requisite procedures had been followed and diversion to black markets is minimized.”

Among the other requirements is sort of mini-EIS, including:  how much electricity your grow requires (to be reviewed by the Department of Building & Planning and possibly the Fire Department); if you’re using a diesel generator, a review by the Department of Environmental Health and the Air Quality Management District; a plan describing how you’ll prevent erosion or contaminated runoff; a description of your water supply to ensure your not a thief.

Oh, and you’ll also need to supply details of the security set up that’ll protect you from the roving bands of pot marauders who’ve helped keep Mendo in the Wild West.

Supe John McCowen, who helped draft the rule change–and is infamous among pro-pot folks for crafting Ukiah’s marijuana nuisance law while on the city council and helping design Measure B–called it a “balanced approach” to regulating pot, according to the Journal.

Not surprisingly, pot advocates like Pebbles Trippet and Cal NORML have a few beefs with the new rules. In a letter to the Supes, Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer, wrote that moving toward “a legally regulated framework” for pot production was a good thing. It’ll discourage bad growing practices and environmental hazards, and it’ll raise cash for the county, the letter says.

However.

“The existing draft is based on a peculiar nuisance law framework that imposes arbitrary standards of ‘nuisance,’ unduly restricting patients’ access to medical marijuana with inflexible and nitpicking regulations,” Gieringer wrote. “We accordingly urge the Board to redraft the ordinance along different lines.”

The Supes final vote will come next month.

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