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California Sheriff's Department Offers Grace Period to Turn in Excess Pot Plants

Aug. 12--The Kern County Sheriff's Department announced Thursday it will allow people with more than 12 pot plants to turn the excess plants over to the department without fear of arrest or prosecution.

The announcement came two days after the Kern County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance that makes it illegal to grow more than 12 plants on any parcel of land. Chief Deputy Francis Moore said the sheriff recognizes that people are trying to work within the medical marijuana guidelines and that the ordinance resulted in people being out of compliance.

"Our intent is not to immediately run out to each person and arrest them for noncompliance," Moore said.

Instead, the department is providing people with a grace period to turn in their plants with no repercussions. How the department will collect the plants depends on how many a person has, Moore said.

People who are only a few plants over the limit can call the department and make arrangements to bring in the plants, Moore said. If there is a large amount of plants, deputies will go to the property to collect them.

Taking advantage of this opportunity could save someone out of compliance a legal headache down the road.

"The sooner they do this the better," Moore said. "If we work a case and show up at your house, it's too late."

Jeff Jarvis, a spokesman for Kern County Medicinal Collective, Inc., said the sheriff is just doing his job in enforcing the ordinance.

"If he's reaching out, I guess that's a positive step from his point of view," Jarvis said. "But again, it's the law, so at this point in time you have to follow it."

Pony R. Horton, who uses medical marijuana but doesn't have plants of his own, said he'd expect people with plants will take the sheriff up on his offer.

"If I had more than 12 I'd probably hand them over whether I liked it or not, and I probably wouldn't like it," he said.

Anyone with excess plants is asked to call the sheriff's department at 391-7580. Arrangements will then be made to collect the plants.