SLO County is serving five marijuana growers in the California Valley with lawsuits for allegedly violating the county’s cannabis urgency ordinance, which put a moratorium on new grows.
The Board of Supervisors voted in closed session May 23 to initiate the litigation, which is to be filed in SLO County Superior Court within a week, county officials said.
The suit will attempt to show that five parties are actively growing or are planning to grow marijuana in California Valley, but could not prove they were growing before Aug. 23, 2016. Under the urgency ordinance, only existing grows could continue cultivating if they registered their sites with the county. That registration deadline passed in November.
The county is charging violators with creating a public nuisance and engaging in unfair business practices. At least a few of the alleged growers are based outside of SLO County, said Assistant County Counsel Tim McNulty.
McNulty said the recent action is just the “first batch” of lawsuits that the county plans to bring forward as it attempts to enforce the urgency ordinance. He said obtaining court orders was the fastest way to halt the grows before harvest.
“We will go for more,” McNulty said. “We’re starting out with a small group to see how our process is working. We’re prepared to try to enforce the ordinance throughout the county.”
SLO County is in the process of crafting a permanent marijuana ordinance that will supersede the urgency ordinance when it’s adopted later this year.