California County To End Marijuana Permitting Program

February 15, 2012

Photo: Mendocino County's zip-ties

Last July, in our film The Pot Republic we told you about one California county’s quietly radical experiment in regulating medical marijuana production under an innovative program developed by Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman. Under county law, patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card could apply for a license to grow a maximum of 25 plants; in return a patient could purchase up to 25 zip ties for $25 each that would mark their plants as legal.

Now comes word from our partners at the Center for Investigative Reporting that under pressure from federal prosecutors, Mendocino County plans to formally end the program today.

Last month, the feds warned county officials that they were in violation of federal drug laws and that the county would face costly litigation and possible criminal action if it refused to shut down the program.  County officials concluded they couldn’t afford the risk and the city Board of Supervisors voted to end the program.

“It means it’s going to go back underground,” an exasperated Board Chairman John McCowen told CIR’s Michael Montgomery. “It’s going to become more dangerous. It’s going to become more profitable for the black marketeers.  I just don’t see that this represents progress.”

Montgomery reports that some Mendocino growers may try to revive the program as a voluntary effort this spring.  You can read his story here or watch our film The Pot Republic here.


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