TULARE – Tulare County is one step closer to banning all marijuana cultivation in its unincorporated areas.
The Tulare County board of supervisors last Tuesday gave direction to staff to draft an ordinance to ban all cultivation of marijuana whether by an individual or a current or future collective or cooperative.
Tulare County’s decision to move forward with an outright ban of marijuana would mark the second California county to ban growing. In January 2014, the Fresno County board of supervisors voted to ban the growing of marijuana in the county’s unincorporated areas.
“Enhancing the ordinance will provide the necessary tools to allow our County agencies to eradicate marijuana in our communities,” said Phil Cox, chairman of the board of supervisors. “There are hundreds of large marijuana grow sites who are not abiding by our existing ordinance and they are a threat to public safety.”
Chairman Cox said there are hundreds of illegal marijuana grow sites within unincorporated areas and the county is doing its best to eradicate them. For example, County agencies increased their eradication by 20 percent in 2013 when compared to 2012; with 161 grow sites being eradicated. The efforts resulted in 239,829 plants being eradicated on public and private lands, 152 weapons being seized, and 162 arrests.
Before the draft ordinance is brought back to the board of supervisors, it will be introduced and reviewed at a future Tulare County Planning Commission meeting. During the Planning Commission meetings, the public will have an opportunity to offer feedback and comments.
Currently, there is a moratorium, or ban, on the opening of any new storefront, mobile dispensary, or collective grow sites. In addition, individual grow sites can cultivate up to 99 plants, per the State’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Under Tulare County’s ordinance, legal grow sites require marijuana to be grown within a secure, locked, and fully enclosed structure and located in proper zoning.