Emerald Growers Association Calls On Mendocino County Residents And Elected Officials To Take Action As Feds Pursue Legally Compliant Medical Cannabis Farmers
In an attempt to gain access to the personal and financial information of state law‐compliant medical cannabis farmers in Mendocino County, federal authorities have requested records regarding the county’s pre-‐2012 medical cannabis cultivation ordinance. Last week local press reported that County officials received a federal grand jury subpoena issued to the Mendocino County Auditor-‐Controller’s Office, demanding records of fees paid to the county by farmers seeking to comply with the ordinance in good faith. Emerald Growers Association (EGA), a medical cannabis trade association representing farmers in the Emerald Triangle region, considers the targeting of law-‐abiding citizens misguided and has called on residents and elected officials to take action immediately.
In Mendocino County, illegal growers, some with ties to violent Mexican gangs like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, have taken over public lands and in the past, according to various media outlets, have fired on local residents, hikers, park rangers, and sheriff’s deputies. In addition to the resulting violence, illegal grows have contributed to environmental devastation unprecedented in recent times including the diversion of natural waterways, clear cutting of forest lands, and pushing wildlife such as the California Fisher to the brink of extinction through indiscriminate use of pesticides at illegal grow sites. While federal efforts have failed to meaningfully address the problem for residents, Mendocino County was actively working with local farmers to address and remedy these and other issues through strict local regulation, exercising its broad public interest in promoting the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.
Mendocino County established a strict regulatory framework in compliance with California’s medical cannabis laws and the California Attorney General’s Guidelines for the Security and Non-‐Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use; in doing so the County successfully began to bring local cannabis cultivation above ground by creating incentives for farmers to comply with laws on transparency, non-‐diversion of medical cannabis and environmental degradation, as well as a clear means of separating state-‐law compliant farmers from their unlawful counterparts. Now, the federal government is attempting to punish the farmers that were brave enough to stand up and become leaders in the fight to take back Mendocino County from the hands of criminal organizations.
Farmers complied with the ordinance in good faith, with the reasonable assumption that compliance with county law would not leave them worse off in terms of their exposure to federal harassment than not complying with county law. It would be manifestly unjust to hang these farmers out to dry and expose them to possible criminal prosecution by delivering their personal information in response to the subpoena. The County Board of Supervisors must defend these citizens by directing the County Counsel to do his utmost to prevent such disclosures.
Federal authorities are abusing their discretion in targeting the hard working and honest people of Mendocino County. Further, these latest federal actions undermine and chill the County’s ability to effectively regulate cannabis cultivation; as such they also endanger the public health, welfare and safety of Mendocino County residents. This federal overreach works a serious injustice upon the residents of Mendocino County, who overwhelmingly support strict regulation of medical cannabis in their county.
There will be a special meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. The EGA is urging all Mendocino County residents to call and e-‐mail their County Supervisors before the meeting to demand that the County act to protect its citizens’ interests and to fight the federal subpoena by passing a unanimous resolution to direct County Counsel Tom Parker to oppose it in court, if necessary.
The EGA’s mission is to “promote the medicinal, environmental, social, and economic benefits of lawfully cultivated sun-‐grown medical cannabis from California’s Emerald Triangle Region by advocating for public policies that foster a healthy, sustainable medical cannabis industry.”