SLO judge stalls removal of pot plants from California Valley

In a potentially precedent-setting case, a San Luis Obispo judge ruled Thursday that SLO County was justified in finding that a pot grower was violating local code by operating a farm in the California Valley, but officials have been temporarily barred from removing the plants. [Tribune]

Grower Scott Hurshaaujer, of Fresno, has been seeking to overturn a county marijuana hearing officer’s decision against his grow. The hearing officer ruled in June that the grow is located in an area where cultivation is banned; levied more than $20,000 in fines; and ordered that the pot farm be abated.

Hurshaaujer filed suit following the decision, claiming county officials had previously informed him that his grow was legal. The grower’s California Valley farm reportedly consists of about 200 plants.

Despite upholding the county’s decision, Judge Barry LabBarbera stated he wants a briefing on medical marijuana. LaBarbera suspended the county’s abatement order for 30 days or more on the condition that the grower can come up with a $50,000 bond by Tuesday.

If Hurshuajer cannot come up with the funds, code enforcement personnel can begin removing the plants on Wednesday.

Both fellow growers and residents of California Valley who oppose the pot farms are following the developments in Hurshuajer’s case.

Currently, attorney Alan Karow is representing a group of 60 to 70 growers called the California Valley Cultural Growers Association, which is reportedly seeking permission to harvest their current plants and then move elsewhere. Karow says the group consists mostly of refugees or immigrants.

Thus far, more than a dozen growers have lost code enforcement cases decided by the county’s marijuana hearings officer. County workers have already removed some of the plants that were determined to be illegal grows.

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