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A Pot Grower Wants To Know

Dear Tim Stelloh or Freda Moon,

My name is Alejandro. I was reading an article from one of your staff writers Mark Scaramella. In regards to how to obtain a pot growers permit in Mendocino County. Well, I read that the minimum parcel size for the exemption is five acres. Does that mean you must have at least five acres to grow marijuana to be consider for the permits? And also, can those five acres be cultivated indoors or outdoors only? The article didn't really specify. Can you please elaborate more on the subject. I'd appreciate it.

Best regards, Alejandro

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Dear Alejandro,

I'm not an official, a lawyer, or an authority on pot. Nor am I a pot smoker, pot grower, or pot fan. Personally, marijuana makes me ill — plants and smoke. But that's just me.

All I did was read the rules which are posted on the County's website (County Code 9.31) and found them to be ridiculously complicated and burdensome -- especially for the average stoner.

(Click on Title 9, then choose 9.31 Medical Marijuana Cultivation Regulations.)

The rules you refer to, I believe, are Mendocino County’s DISPENSARY/COOPERATIVE rules. Not the personal garden rules. The five acre minimum applies to dispensaries and cooperative grows only. There's a big difference.

I can't even imagine a five acre indoor grow or a five acre personal grow which would not draw the attention of law enforcement.

The County does not issue permits for personal medical grows, just rules and zip-ties. For information on those rules and how to obtain zip-ties, check the Sheriff's website, the County Code 9.31, or County Counsel Jeanine Nadel's office. Frankly, I don't know what the rules are for personal grows these days. The rules seem to change rather frequently. And people who are busted with personal grows tend to need expensive lawyers who specialize in pot law. There's also the County's criminal nuisance laws which the pot brigades have filed suit over alleging unconstitutionality. There's also asset forfeiture which is even more complicated if the cops take you, your pot, your money, your car or anything else Trooper Cop Officer Hoyle lays eyes on during a compliance check or raid and makes you prove it's not ill-gotten gains via a civil process separate from the criminal case to get it back.

You might also want to refer to the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board (MMMAB) on the Coast. They're trying to keep up with these things. PO Box 2555 Mendocino CA 95460 964-YESS. (email:

Most personal pot growers I know around here do it without a "permit" and keep it low-profile and pretty small and hope that nobody ever looks at it very closely — including possible home invaders and other rip-off artists.

Personally, I'd say if you have to ask a newspaper about pot growing rules, you're probably not ready to take the risk.

One Comment

  1. Pebbles Trippet October 7, 2010

    The rules are complicated and ever-changing, depending on whether law enforcement applies the criminal or civil ordinance. The civil nuisance law 9.31 limits qualified patients to 25 plants per parcel, regardless of neighborhood or size. If you want the right to grow more–up to 99 plants–there are 20+ hoops you have to jump thru to be eligible for an exemption from the 25 plant limit. A 5-acre minimum is required, an arbitrary limit that precludes many from participating in the program, including myself with 4.2 acres. The law is so restrictive, allowing no exceptions, that it will surely be ruled unconstitutional when the courts get hold of it. Even the alcohol laws allow exceptions.

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