Sometime before the Labor Day holiday, heavily armed and highly trained law-enforcement officers will fan out across Sacramento, California’s capital city and the main center of commerce and culture in the state’s vast Central Valley to identify and arrest marijuana growers who do not comply with a vast array of regulations. Marijuana legalization allows Californians aged 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and to cultivate up to six plants in their homes. Medical marijuana patients are allowed more plants and cannabis for their personal use. Commercial cannabis activity, involving many more plants and pounds of pot, provided the operators acquire permits and pay fees.
In the last 10 month, however, authorities in law enforcement and government have set rules so strict or set fees so high as to render legalization irrelevant or unworkable-or. Some communities have passed laws requiring fees or permit inspections before six-plant homegrows can be planted. Others have suggested charging would-be homegrowers for commercial-grade water hookups costing tens of thousands of dollars. Sacramento’s plan presents a different conundrum; someone growing a few big plants runs the risk of having the SWAT team called in on them by a neighbor. These approaches mirror others taken across the state, which, some growers and cannabis advocates are warning, is an existential threat to legalization.
Frank T. Luciano has been representing people accused of marijuana related issues for over 40 years. He is a lifetime member of the legal committee for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and has been a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorney’s for many years.