collateral-damage

Collateral Damage

It would appear Humboldt County remains a cannabis trendsetter. Leafly is reporting that Humboldt County’s controversial strategy of dealing with illicit grow operations through civil code enforcement abatement notices and fines of up to $10,000 per day, per violation has caught other jurisdictions’ attention. A similar program is already in place in Sonoma County, according to the Leafly article, and another is ready to go live this summer in Mendocino County as other jurisdictions mull taking a similar approach. Sacramento, meanwhile, passed a law July 1 to impose civil fines of up to $30,000 per day on folks operating unlicensed dispensaries. According to the article, the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department sent out 597 cannabis-related abatement notices in 2018 and 148 so far this year. Those on the receiving end of the notices have 10 days to remove their plants and correct the code violation before they face the daily fines, which can run for up to 90 days to a tab of $900,000. Once the number hits that threshold, the county begins taking collection action, which could include property liens. The article notes…


It would appear Humboldt County remains a cannabis trendsetter. Leafly is reporting that Humboldt County’s controversial strategy of dealing with illicit grow operations through civil code enforcement abatement notices and fines of up to $10,000 per day, per violation has caught other jurisdictions’ attention. A similar program is already in place in Sonoma County, according to the Leafly article, and another is ready to go live this summer in Mendocino County as other jurisdictions mull taking a similar approach. Sacramento, meanwhile, passed a law July 1 to impose civil fines of up to $30,000 per day on folks operating unlicensed dispensaries. According to the article, the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department sent out 597 cannabis-related abatement notices in 2018 and 148 so far this year. Those on the receiving end of the notices have 10 days to remove their plants and correct the code violation before they face the daily fines, which can run for up to 90 days to a tab of $900,000. Once the number hits that threshold, the county begins taking collection action, which could include property liens. The article notes the county has assessed $3.28 million in cannabis abatement fines since launching the program but didn’t specify how much had actually been collected. It also has liens on five properties, according to Leafly. While county officials and those watching from other jurisdictions feel the approach is effective, it’s far from universally popular. Many in the cannabis industry have charged that the county began by sending abatement notices to people who had applied for county permits but dropped out of the process, many due to high compliance costs. Others say the county just seems to be going after whoever it can happen to find with unpermitted grows through satellite imagery rather than looking to first abate the worst of the worst. Local reporter and Journal contributor Kym Kemp told Leafly that neighbors with fruit or vegetable gardens have received abatement notices. Kemp has, too, noting that the water board sent a notice after taking aerial photos of a green house she uses to grow vegetables in the winter. “I don’t grasp why that would be the first place you would start when there’s a neighbor a quarter mile down the road who leveled a mountain,” she told the news site. There have been other reports of mistaken abatement notices, too. The Times-Standard reported last month that…

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