The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has challenged recent raids by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on small-scale cannabis grow sites, following reports of unfair actions from local growers, in a letter to the state Natural Resources Agency.
“The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is concerned that recent activities by (CDFW) may prove counterproductive to our efforts to bring cannabis cultivators into a regulated system,” the letter reads.
The board said it agrees with stopping environmentally damaging practices such as water diversion, but goes on to warn of potential adverse effects of the raids.
“But we question the necessity and advisability of heavy handed summary eradication of small scale cultivation operations that are in the permit process,” the supervisors wrote. “We are very concerned that actions of this type will have a chilling effect on the willingness of cultivators to apply for permits.”
The California Natural Resources Agency is a federal organization led by Secretary John Laird, to whom the county’s letter was addressed, and oversees the CDFW.
Reports of inappropriately aggressive raids on cannabis gardens led by the CDFW have surfaced in the past week. One couple who had a particularly unpleasant experience at their property in Ukiah appeared at the board’s meeting on Tuesday, though they did not speak publicly. Ron Edwards of NCGA Genetics in Willits did, on their behalf and others’.
“Right now, we have situations where people are in the program, who are trying to follow the environmental rules and are being eradicated,” he said on Tuesday. “Rumors are flying that, ‘Why get in the program, because they’ve got your name and address, and they’re going to come cut you down?'”
Edwards asked the board to send letters to the CDFW and other state agencies asking for a list of disqualifying actions for cannabis cultivators, so they know exactly what they are being “targeted” for.
The board has spoken against the CDFW’s actions with the letter and stated a commitment to helping local growers enter the legal market.
“Increased law enforcement efforts alone will do little to address the negative impacts of illegal cannabis cultivation,” the letter says. “In order to protect the environment, reduce black market diversion, reduce violent crime associated with the black market, and fulfill the legal requirement to provide safe access to medical cannabis, it is imperative that we develop a successful regulatory program that is embraced by a significant number of cultivators.”