The Rancho Cordova Police Department says more attention to illegal cannabis operations has yielded results, but some in the pot community who say there are other options than enforcement.
Two years ago, the department says community complaints prompted it to add an officer focused only on illegal pot grows.
“[Illegal growers] completely gut the inside of the house. They mess with the electrical. They sometimes will bypass the meter and pull power straight from off the street, which is obviously a safety concern for not only that house but the surrounding community,” says Assistant Chief of Police Jeff Schelldorf. He added that sales of weed from residential neighborhoods can also result in unwanted visitors at all hours.
Schelldorf says the new officer began identifying illegal grows immediately with the help of community members’ phone calls. In the last two weeks, officers and inspectors from the building and code enforcement departments have seized 4,000 plants and 2,000 pounds of cannabis at four different sites as part of two different operations.
Of the 21 busts since last December, 16 were in residential neighborhoods and five were in industrial areas.
But Lindsay Robinson with the California Cannabis Industry Association says enforcement isn’t the only way to curb illegal grows and sales.
"Enforcement is part of the conversation 100 percent in terms of how we tamp out the illicit market but it is not the only solution,” she said, adding that that there are others who want to grow legally but can't afford the fees. “We really need to lower barriers for entry so people want to come in to the legal cannabis side."
Schelldorf says the grows officers are seeing far exceed the six-plant limit as defined by state law. He promises the department will continue to work to respond to what the community is “feeling and seeing” when it comes to illegal cannabis.
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