California City to Charge Separate Violations Per Illegal Plant

Brentwood, California officials aren’t playing games any more.
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Brentwood, California officials are fed up with the uptick in home cultivation violations and did something about it.

On July 12, the Brentwood City Council intensified the rules on the home cultivation of cannabis—taking the rules beyond the legal six-plant limit inside a personal residence. Administrative citations may be issued—per plant—for any plants that are grown beyond the legal limit.

The measure was approved by the Brentwood City Council by a 4-0 vote, with Vice Mayor Johnny Rodriguez absent.

Residents should be careful about considering how many plants to grow at home. A $100 citation will be issued for the first violation, $200 for the second violation, and $500 for the third and subsequent violation. What it means is that now each plant will be considered a separate violation.

According to Code Enforcement Supervisor Roberta Portillo-Bienemann, the city has seen an uptick in cannabis cultivation violations. The new rules would give code enforcement agents additional tools to fight illegal home cultivation, putting a bit more pressure on residents who are considering defying the rules.

Typical illegal grow operations have up to 10 violations, Portillo-Bienemann said, but the new rules would add more violations, depending on the number of plants that are found by code enforcement.

Portillo-Bienemann said it usually gives the offender five to seven days to appeal the citation, however the city could issue fines per plant, per day.

“In order to give an individual their due process, right, and their ability to appeal that citation, if they choose to do so, we issue the administrative fines on a weekly basis,” she told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “It is hoped these revisions will increase the city’s code enforcement capabilities and deter illegal marijuana cultivation.’’

But next door in Antioch, California, the police say there’s no actual problem taking place—at least not in their city.

Antioch Interim Police Chief Steve Ford said that in his city, they haven’t seen any grow houses in the last year, however at least one illegal warehouse grow operation was discovered months ago and punished by code enforcement.

“As crazy as it sounds, I’d like to think that that [the availability of dispensaries] has helped to mitigate the need for people to want to try and erect a weed house or weed grow because they don’t have to do that,” Ford told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Brentwood has regulated home cultivation since 2017, when it incorporated California law into its municipal code to reflect Proposition 64. City leaders are mostly worried about large-scale operations, and they say that the crop sizes reach the hundreds or thousands, and they believe it creates health and safety risks.

Brentwood Mayor Joel Bryant said he supported the new home cultivation rules.

“Having seen some of these grow houses in our community, not only is there immediate danger to the neighboring houses of fire and there are health concerns from the mold, but there also have been some violent interactions from criminal activity,” Bryant stated. “Not only from the growers but people that are criminals that found out that that grow house was there.”

Councilwoman Susannah Meyer approved the measure, saying that the enhanced rules don’t impede anyone’s rights to consume cannabis.

Some residents also agreed with the enhanced violations, saying that the issue is about protecting their property values.

Assuming you’re staying within the legal limit in your respective city, and assuming your state allows it, High Times provides guidelines, focusing on the ins and outs of growing cannabis at home.

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