The Monterey County Board of Supervisors has voted in favor of drafting new regulations that will allow marijuana cultivators to establish outdoor grows.
Although a narrow 3-2 victory, this decision could see marijuana farms in operation in the Big Sur and Carmel Valley by the end of this year. These are the areas pinpointed for a pilot program in Monterey’s unincorporated areas.
Left out of the picture are the areas of South County and Prunedale, a concession agreed to at the request of the two supervisors who have opposed the pilot project – Simon Salinas and John Phillips.
The regulations will allow for outdoor grows of less than 2,500 square feet (or 50 plants) in the current unincorporated areas, says the chairman of the board, Luis Alejo.His approval was supported by supervisors Mary Adams and Jane Parker.
Monterey’s district attorney opposes the move
But Monterey County’s district attorney, Jeanine Pancioni, is not a happy camper. She describes the decision to allow outdoor grows as letting the cat out of the bag, pointing to recent raids of illegal outdoor grows in which law enforcement officers found themselves faced by armed cultivators who had stolen water from nearby streams and caused environmental damage with the use of pesticides.
Pancioni also says enforcing the law requires at least 19 officers and cannot be handled by a sheriff’s deputy and one officer.
But Alejosays her concerns are being addressed as he has already requested additional financing to beef up the enforcement of the new grow rules from the county’s department heads.
Board Supervisor chairman defends his stance
Defending his stance on legalizing outdoor grows, Alejo says not all cultivators should be tainted with one stroke as those described by the district attorney in the recent raid.
Alejo says the growers seeking legalization are heritage farmers who follow the rules, pay their taxes and co-operate with the law.
The chairman of the board of supervisors went on to say that the ordinance would appear before local committees and commissions before final consideration by the supervisors at the end of the year.
Public opinion and bad smells
One of the supervisors who opposed the pilot program, John Phillips, expressed doubt that the public was even made aware of this new move, while the other antagonist, Simon Salinas, complained about the bad odorsthat have been permeating the Greenfield area ever since pot was legalized.
The exact number of grows that will be allowed has yet to be determined, as well as the number of permits that will be issued.