Shasta County’s Marijuana Problem, Part 1

Next Monday, unless the Shasta County District Attorney’s office pulls a rabbit out of its hat, local medical marijuana cultivator and activist James Benno and his two sons will walk out of the courthouse free men, completely exonerated of all the 17 marijuana-related felonies each was charged with after a multi-agency drug task force raided their Happy Valley farm nearly four years ago.

From left to right, James Benno, attorney Joseph Tully, Logan Benno and Jacob Benno

That’s right. James Benno and sons did nothing wrong, just like they’ve been saying all along, barring any last-minute legal shenanigans the prosecution can dream up.

The raid on the Benno farm happened shortly after I arrived in Shasta County, and featured a multitude of northern California law enforcement officers, some armor-clad and armed with assault rifles.

This is what a police state looks like. Photo courtesy James Benno.

Having covered the medical marijuana issue in California for years as a journalist, I recognized the raid for what it was: A violent government assault on a man, James Benno, who had dared to publicly question Shasta County’s interpretation of the state’s medical marijuana statute, Prop. 215, passed way back in 1996.

The rifle butt Benno alleges he was struck by during the raid was meant to instill fear in the local medical marijuana community, as was the total destruction of his 99-plant farm, the $500,000 bail charged to him and his sons, and the threatened seven-year prison sentences, for among other things, possessing a semi-automatic assault rifle of the type Sheriff Tom Bosenko openly supports ownership of—unless you have anything to do with marijuana.

Those felony weapons charges — nine for each Benno — were thrown out way before the case went to trial last December, which resulted in the acquittal of the Bennos on all but one charge, manufacturing cannabis oil using a method previously supported by court precedent and now totally legal under Prop. 64.

But that’s the thing about these so-called conservatives in rural California. They’re all about small-government, radical individualism and the rule of law, until the subject turns to cannabis. Then they’re quite willing to employ all the forces of government, from multi-agency drug task forces to backlogged zoning enforcement officials, to ensure not one person grows one single plant outdoors, despite Prop. 64, which says it’s legal to grow up to six, or Prop. 215, which has no set limit.

Case in point? Tonight, the Redding City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance that will completely ban the outdoor cultivation of medical and recreational marijuana within city limits, a right that’s currently permitted by city ordinance, Prop. 215, the medical marijuana initiative passed in 1996, and Prop. 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed in 2016.

This total ban on outdoor cultivation is nothing less than a giant “fuck you” to every Redding resident now enjoying these rights and is emblematic of the approach taken by rural cities and counties up and down the Central and Sacramento valleys, including Shasta County, where outdoor growing has been banned in unincorporated areas since the passage of Measure A in 2014.

None of these cash-strapped cities and counties have the actual personnel to enforce the bans. This is government by fear—fear of incarceration, fear of excessive fines—and truth be told, more than a few growers have skedaddled from Shasta County since Measure A passed. Those growers who’ve remained and can’t finance the move indoors continue to operate with the knowledge that the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and Code Enforcement can swarm down on their crops and into their lives like locusts at any given moment.

That’s not to mention private citizens, be they medical marijuana patients or recreational users, who live in the middle of nowhere and wish to grow cannabis outdoors for personal use on their own property. No matter how remote the location is within the unincorporated area of the county’s 3,847 square miles, there’s always the fear that law or code enforcement may turn up on the doorstep.

Now, the city of Redding seeks to impose this same fear on some of its citizens—even as the new ordinance will permit up to 10 retail cannabis dispensaries to operate within city limits. Medium-and- large scale indoor warehouse grows will be permitted in qualified industrial zones. But no outdoor growing, private or commercial, will be permitted within the city’s 62 square miles.

For any city or county hoping to capitalize on the emerging medical and marijuana market, as Redding is claiming to do with its proposed ordinance, banning outdoor growing is a foolish mistake.

Here’s why: Growing weed indoors is inherently more energy intensive and therefore way more expensive than growing it outdoors, especially in a region such as ours, where skin-blistering sunlight that turns mere shrubs into towering trees is one of our most valuable natural resources. It also arguably causes more environmental damage. A total outdoor ban ensures any pot shop that opens up in Redding won’t be supplied by locally grown indoor weed, because cheaper supplies exist in counties that don’t have outdoor bans.

In other words, by cutting the outdoor supply out of the equation, Redding is counting on minimal income from its proposed ordinance, even as it denies access to medical marijuana  patients whose only option is to grow their own, outdoors.

Keep in mind, tonight when the Redding City Council considers these regulations, which remove anyone who knows how to grow marijuana outdoors, along with the many local businesses that support them, from the local economy, it’s also voting on whether to declare a state of fiscal emergency in order to place an initiative increasing the sales tax by a half-cent on June’s primary ballot.

Sales taxes and outdoor bans are the extent of our public officials’ repertoire. The powers that be in Shasta County have a marijuana problem. The problem is they don’t like it. They don’t like it a lot.

In fact, with the exception of the City of Shasta Lake, which has embraced first medical and now recreational marijuana, to the benefit of that city’s coffers, it’s fair to say that a majority of the public officials in Shasta County hate marijuana to such an extent, they’re incapable of comprehending the world has turned, that the era of cannabis prohibition is ending.

This willful blindness has led to and continues to lead to dubious decision-making by both local public officials and law enforcement. It’s costing us dearly, both in terms of lost economic opportunity and in potential civil litigation against the county and the city, which with its relentless prosecution of the Benno family, has opened itself wide to a big fat lawsuit that’s already underway.

Next week, after James Benno and his sons are exonerated, I’ll attempt to put a price tag on this hubris. It’s not going to be pretty. Stay tuned.

###

Editor’s note: R.V. Scheide has been covering the Benno story since March of 2015. Click on the links below to read those stories. 

Get Benno! …

The Valley of Fear …

Sometimes You Feel Like a Gun Nut …

Trump Throws Stoners Off the Train …

The Neverending Trial of James Benno and Sons…

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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94 Responses

  1. Avatar Pam says:

    Outstanding article on the problems with this city and county. Never sure which way their wind is gonna blow. Keep your finger tip on the pulse of the idiots in charge here. Personally I drive to Shasta lake for my cbd for Parkinson’s .

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I have to say Shasta Lake’s dispensaries have made the transition to recreational marijuana with flying colors. There are more products in the stores, for both medical and recreational. They’re growing and manufacturing at least some of those products locally. It’s a model any small city in Shasta County could follow, if it has the political willpower.

      • Avatar Tobar says:

        The cannabis industry -both medicinal and recreational- in Shasta County could help to mitigate the lack of jobs in this area. Shasta Lake City has already taken the lead followed now by Redding. The ultimate goal is make of this county a friendly zone for cannabis entrepreneurs and investors, having in place reasonable regulations that will also facilitate the outdoor cultivation (cannabis activists should focus their efforts in changing the current code of ordinances via the upcoming elections).

  2. Avatar john says:

    Smoke in the lungs is harmful regardless from where it originates.

  3. Avatar Damon Miller says:

    I don’t think it’s so much that they hate marijuana itself as it is they hate their vision of the stereotypical grower or user and love money.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I get why they might be down on your stereotypical grunge-coated weed trimmer. But what they’re doing sure ain’t saving them any money.

  4. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I have one question no one seems to answer. Shasta Lake City has legal MJ stores and they are in Shasta County so why is Shasta County responsible for the raids and prohibition in the rest of the county? Does Shasta Lake City have a get-out-of-jail free card that the rest of the county doesn’t have.
    As far as indoor gardens they are very expensive. That is why the Colorado growers are moving out of the Denver warehouses and to rural areas where they rent land to grow in greenhouses. The greenhouses still require the same 24/7 security that the Denver warehouses have but with a cash crop like MJ that makes sense. They aren’t growing corn.
    There has been much abuse in Colorado over private medical growing and the state has cracked down on that. The main abuse seems to be with the drug cartels falsely using medical rules to grow large medical grows. As with many things for profit people push the envelope on the rules and it hurts the people who the rules were made for.

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Cities can do as they wish Cheyenne, Shasta Lake City had some Common Sense and Realized it could be a win/win so they embraced Cannabis a while ago!

      The County and in more particular the Sheriff don’t want to lose that $350-$400k in Fed MJ Eradication Money they get each year.So they stick with the “Not in My Backyard” attitude.

      • Avatar Josh says:

        350-450k lol is that true that’s chump change. Compared to what the taxes would bring for the sale of soil and pots alone lol

        • Avatar common sense says:

          Indeed Josh, but there is a Big difference in the $400k going Specifically to the Sheriff’s office and the Millions going Specifically to the County’s Coffers! See?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I’m definitely not for totally deregulated outdoor growing. There’s plenty of open space within Redding city limits, properties with large lots, where growing is possible without it becoming a public nuisance. If your next door neighbor doesn’t like the smell, be a good citizen and find someplace else to grow. Of course, finding someplace else is impossible with a total ban on outdoor growing.

  5. Avatar Common Sense says:

    R.V Very good Article! While we don’t line up on Politics…..we certainly agree on this topic it sounds like! When the Bennos win that Lawsuit….it will set the tone for the rest of the folks that things have changed around our neck of the woods!
    One of the main Reasons Benno was singled out in my Opinion was that he was Boisterous…in your Face and F U with his attitude….that didn’t set well with the Good Ol Boyz….so they cleaned him out….problem was…..it was legal what he was doing….and now it may cost the Tax Payers $500k!

    While I don’t like the Cocky Attitude of Benno….the Law is the Law…..and Shasta County Could end up paying out a LOT in end because of this, ” Let’s teach him a lesson” stunt! Get your Check Books out Shasta County Residents!…Cause this one…..it’s not going to be cheap if he wins that Lawsuit!

    Cognitive Dissonance Dies Slowly….Very Slowly in Shasta County….

    It’s the Amway of the Plant World…..but it DOES have Medical Benefits…….for those that have opened up their Minds!

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I like Benno’s cocky attitude, to me it represents the pent-up exasperation many marijuana proponents are experiencing in Shasta County, but are too polite, or perhaps too afraid, to express in public.

      We don’t align politically? I always thought I was for common sense.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I’ve been the target of Mr. Benito’s wrath—as I recall it was for the offense of asking a question that he perceived as deserving of a vitriolic “eff-you-and-your-mother-and-your-dog” response.

        He’s a colorful character. But if I’m being honest, if I’m a member of the community of local growers, I don’t want him as the poster child. Rage-a-holics are never my favorite people, and I think they make lousy spokespersons.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          What were you discussing, guns? The efficacy of medical marijuana? Those are topics bound to ignite a passionate response from James. I would argue that being nice doesn’t work in this town. Of course, neither does anything else.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            I think it was, “Is that a gun tower?” in reference to one of the structures in the aerial photo of his grow operation. It could have been a platform for a water tank, I guess—they’re often put on stands to create a pressure head. I don’t know why you’d build a roof over a water tank…but then again, that’s how every water tower in the town of Mendocino was constructed.

            Anyhoo, it was an honest, innocuous question—I was just curious to know if that level of security was necessary—and he went off on me.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            You roof water towers to keep out guano

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Maybe. The modern water tanks sold at my local feed store are sealed up pretty tight, and the structure in the photo looks a lot like a colonial bat house.

  6. Avatar sal says:

    Outdoor grows mean; seasonal plywood fencing (screams ‘guess what’s here?’), no odor containment, higher level of security issues for the growers and their non-growing neighbors around harvest time. The big money will continue to be the out of state sales hiding behind the legal CA grows, big or small.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Illegal grows will continue in California until the Feds wise up and de-schedule marijuana. The second that happens, the out-of-state market dries up. Total outdoor bans have almost no effect on this market, because these types of growers do not follow the law in the first place. Transporting weed from a legal marijuana state to one where it’s illegal remains a serious felony offense.

  7. Avatar Louise Hanson says:

    For the past few years, we have had someone in the neighborhood, close to our home, who has grown marijuana in their backyard. I happen to be one of those persons who is allergic to marijuana, so when the plants get into the flowering stage and the wind is right, I am miserable with a very bad headache and the past couple of years, I’ve noticed my throat gets tight if I stay outside. Often during the bloom season, I am unable to go outside and enjoy my yard and have to stay indoors. So go ahead and push for being able to grow within the city limits; I guess we can just sell our home and pack up and move.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I’m not opposed to regulating outdoor grows, I’m opposed to total outdoor bans. In your case, if you truly are allergic to marijuana, your neighbor should be a good citizen, and not grow right next doors to you. This might involve actually talking to your neighbor.

      • Avatar Marc Carter says:

        Still, I have never seen documented confirmation that flowering cannabis causes such symptoms. During a pollination stage, maybe. However, during the flowering stage, I think such symptoms are probably more about an individuals disdain of pot in general.

        • Avatar K. Beck says:

          Pollen, of any sort, can cause allergies. Just because you are not allergic, doesn’t mean no one is. Give one of the Allergy docs in town and have a discussion with her/him.

          • Avatar K. Beck says:

            Correction: “Give one of the Allergy docs in town A CALL and have a discussion with her/him”

          • Avatar Marc Carter says:

            With cannabis, there is next to no airborne pollen discharging during flowering. Many other type plants (and weeds) release pollen during flowering around the same time of year. I think the smell is mainly the
            issue here.

          • Avatar Common Sense says:

            Only Male Cannabis Plants emit Pollen…and I am guessing we don’t have too many of those in this neck of the woods! Everyone wants to blame the plant….few are educated on the plant.

            The Smell….fair enough…..some of them stink….NO argument there! But the Pollen excuse….it’s just that….an excuse to accuse the plant of one’s seasonal allergies!

            Legalize it across the board on the Federal Level….Game OVER! Its another Ag crop worth Peanuts!…Like Steve Said…the money was in the hiding out in the backcountry and the black market…..that ALL Goes away with a Federal Level Legalization….when you take the money out of the equation…. it’s toast.

            When you Shed some Light on it….the Darkness goes away!…ever see a Dark switch when you walk into any room in a house or building? Me Neither.

            Know the Truth….and the Truth shall set you free!

      • Avatar Nanci says:

        Well lots of luck with that! I seriously doubt your comment of suggesting that “actually talking to her neighbor” (in your rather sarcastic tone) will really make a difference. What? He is going to dig up all his plants? Doubtful. My main issue is, “Your rights only go as far as the next persons “. People have the right to enjoy their own home without an obnoxious odor permeating the environment. That is one of the problems with outdoor grows. To me, it’s more an issue of people having the right to breathe fresh, clean air that doesn’t smell like a combination of skunk and rank gym socks, than whether someones chooses to responsibly smoke weed. In my opinion, I think people are selfish and inconsiderate and that can be a real problem for all the people that are non smoking. Maybe that’s why there should be laws, to protect people’s rights. Somehow I don’t think that growers are going to pull up their plants because it bothers the neighbors.

    • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

      The City should simply sell permits through the building dept for the growing of outdoor MJ to ensure neighborhoods are not being crammed with grows. Permitting the same way they have a limited number of livestock per acre. That will keep the grows spread out to decrease the effects of pollen drift. I sympathize with allergy sufferers and permitting will be a way to reduce the skunk funk during the season.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        This idea is so sensible … it will almost undoubtedly not be taken up.

      • The City of Shasta Lake Council (I am a member) will have before us a new ordinance for personal use outdoor cannabis grows. Our existing medical ordinance has many restrictions as far as location on the property, proximity to schools, site from the street, etc and most importantly restricts the outdoor plants to ONLY SIX. Unfortunately, in the past, growers were going way over that amount – some people had over 100 huge plants in their backyards! Of course, when the plants mature there’s quite the stink which only draws unwanted attention to the grow. When we adopted our Cannabis ordinance we made sure that the cannabis business tax collected would go towards law enforcement and code enforcement of the ordinance. We intend to have personal grows permitted (we are not sure if there will be a fee – probably just be something like a fire permit) and renters must provide documentation from the property owner stating that they are aware of the intention to have a cannabis crop. We hope that this will prevent the nuisance of smell to the neighbors and will also give our code enforcement officer some good data of who is actually legally permitted to have an outdoor residential garden.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          Thanks for showing everybody else how it can be done!

        • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

          That sound great, Janice. Fees for a backyard permit should cover the cost of enforcement and inspection. Glad the City of Shasta Lake is approaching this issue in a sober and professional manner.

        • Avatar commonsense says:

          Bravo!…Common Sense in SLC…Imagine that! Not ALL MJ smells like Skunk….just an FYI….depends on the strain! Perhaps having the Permit Fee for growing the “Skunk” Strain…..3X higher might be a way to less the Nuisance to others?

        • I think that it would be close to impossible for our code enforcement officer to have the ability to determine the strain and level of aroma of the cannabis plant in an outdoor grow in our city. Not all Cannabis plants have an aroma and it only happens at a certain stage of its maturity and usually only lasts for about 4weeks during the grow cycle. In the CoSL there were only about 25 complaints in 2017 regarding the smell and no enforcement was taken because the officer had higher priority complaints to act on. This type of complaint is considered a “nuisance” and in the same category as abandoned vehicles, illegal camping, and blight. We get far more than 2 complaints per month on any of these other issues. I can tell you that in the past, our outdoor growers went way beyond the 6 plants and with a larger garden (some with close to 100 plants) the aroma will be much more noticeable. We intend to educate our citizens on the regulations for outdoor personal grows and the nuisance abatement process and are hoping that a “good neighbor” attitude will prevail in the upcoming gardening season. I think that with Prop 64 regulations with the implementation of track and trace from seed to sale to licensed dispensaries, that our citizens who grow for personal use won’t have any incentive to grow more plants than they can personally use. There won’t be any market for their product and they can just go to our dispensaries and by whatever they need!

          • Avatar Tim says:

            “In the CoSL there were only about 25 complaints in 2017 regarding the smell and no enforcement was taken because the officer had higher priority complaints to act on.”
            ——-
            I guarantee more than 25 people found the smell a nuisance, but why would anyone formally complain when they know you’re not going to do anything about it?

          • We always encourage people to make any complaint by filling out the form. Citizens are told that the code enforcement officer will attempt to respond. Please, understand that COSL, like most small cities, is struggling to make ends meet and we try to honor the nuisance abatement process. People should take the time to fill out the complaint form so that there’s a record of the volume of complaints. If you are trying to make a point here, that there are actually more cannabis complaints because people just know nothing will be done – I think the same could be said for all the other types of nuisance complaints that we have too. With that said, the comparison would be the same.

      • Avatar Huh says:

        Why should you get to grow but not me? That’s not fair…

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        It’s not Pollen drift, Old Pretender….what you are smelling are the “Terpenes” in the plant when it is flowering. There is no pollen floating around out there unless there is a Male plant in the mix. Growers DON”T want male plants as they would have negligible flowers or “Bud” if the females were all pollinated. Here is a link if you would like to learn more.

        https://www.medicaljane.com/category/cannabis-classroom/terpenes/#introduction-to-terpenes

  8. Avatar Harley Makita says:

    Growing indoors is a real problem the cannabis plant thrives in open air outdoor growing. Mother nature knows best and trying to replicate sunlight with high wattage lighting is not only cost evasive its dangerous to your health and taxes our energy grid. Indoor growers use chemicals to feed the plants yet most are not omri approved and create contaminated plants. Personally I would imagine most grows cannot pass there indoor product to the market due to contamination of non approved nutrients and pesticides. Outdoor can be contaminated too yet it is much easier to grow outdoors with organic products so I have learned to only grow organic outdoor medicine. The county is incompetent of providing a reasonable solution for all. So go vote out everyone who stands in the way of future progress we have not even discussed hemp when it comes to our farm land will we ban that too! My father banned cannabis in his home when we were kids only to use cannabis oil himself for its wonderful anti inflammatory properties after he exhausted his battle with rheumatoid arthritis and so called pharmaceutical drugs. Now he promotes elders to use cannabis orally for everything that ails them! Now he says just skip the Dr. and get some cannabis oil problem solved.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      It is actually the other way around. It is much easier to control the environment (including weeds & pests) in indoor grows, making them much more viable for organic growing. Outdoor grows, particularly on the commercial scale, are far more likely to use herbicides & pesticides.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      The folks who drew up the environmental impact statement for Prop. 64 determined that outdoor growing has far less impact on the environment than indoor grows, mainly because there’s so much energy usage indoors and almost all of the environmental impacts of outdoor growing can be mitigated. As far as pest control goes, it can be a drastic problem outdoors and indoors, and indoors you have the added prospect of mold. Organic weed can be grown just as easily outdoors as indoors, currently we have no way of knowing on a statewide level who’s using pesticides on what because the testing regime has not been fully implemented. Mr. Benno specializes in organic weed, uses no pesticides and grows exclusively outdoors.

  9. Avatar Anita L Brady says:

    I have long asked how much this prosecution has cost the taxpayers of this county. Also, the unsuccessful double prosecution of the mother/daughter dispensary owners years before. And the ultimate cost of the re-payment to the property owner in eastern Shasta County who had the SC Deputies barge illegally onto his property and destroy his crop. HOW MUCH DID ALL THIS COST US?

    What could it have been better spent on?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      That question of direct cost to taxpayers is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the question of how much we’re giving up in contribution to the local economy, and in tax revenues. Finally, response times by our local LE have dropped significantly over the years. Since that’s a problem, do we really want LE departments chasing MJ growers? Why do we keep re-electing a Sheriff who sees fit to make hassling people like the Benitos a priority?

      • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

        Jerry Benito moved back to town to grow cannabis?

        • Hal, I think the name Benito was supposed to be Benno. It threw me, too. (With the commenters’ permission, we can go in and make that correction.)

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            Doni, I kind of figured as much, but I’ve waited months to get Steve back after he caught me writing “mime” instead of “meme.”

            Yeah, that’s not very mature, but I hold that maturity is overrated.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        I thought Steve was making a Mussolini joke.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Drug enforcement can be very lucrative. I see over $1 million revenue on the county books from asset seizures. Apparently RPD breaks theirs out separately and has been having trouble with their online auction site…

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        Good Point Tim! As always….you have done your homework. Money from the Feds….up to $400k per year….plus the Seizures…Pickups…Backhoes/Bobcats/Generators etc etc…and where do all those Items Go??….I asked once….I got an….ughhhh it goes online to a website to be sold!…Ok….which website and do you have a list of all the Items??…No…that’s not for public Knowledge!…WTH?…It’s Dispose of…..ahhh OK.

        And they wonder why there are Trust and Transparency issues??

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Asset seizures came down during the Obama years thanks to the Cole memo, which kept the feds somewhat at bay. Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo in January, and county sheriffs are licking their chops do get some more of that asset seizure money. I question the idea that this is a “lucrative” source of income, since we have no way of easily determining how much manpower and other costs go into such enforcement measures. At any rate, it hasn’t been enough to say, build more jail space, or open up all the closed substations.

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        Tim are you aware of a line item seizure list and have you seen where that all goes? Me thinks there is a story on this one here. What happened to that like new backhoe? Where did that new lifted 4×4 go? Did it get a county plate on it?….how about that like new Bob Cat? Saying it ….ummm all gets disposed of of……not too transparent there is it!

        • Avatar Tim says:

          No, I’ve never seen anything line by line. Just a couple hundred thousand dollars under various categories of asset forfeitures or seizures.

          I do find it amusing when you read about big SINTF busts where they capture $100,000+ worth of drugs yet don’t mention logging any cash into evidence. I never knew a dealer to take IOUs, but that’s just me…

          • Avatar commonsense says:

            Lol….well that safe…it was ummm emptied of all things of a paper nature and as the one said I talked to on the phone….ummm..disposed of! Indeed!

  10. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’m torn.

    On one side, I see it as an example of how hypocritical Shasta County’s conservatives are, time and time again. Many of our conservative fellow citizens talk a good libertarian game, but when it’s nut-cutting time they’re authoritarians to the core, almost across the board. They vote that way every time they re-elect our Sheriff.

    On the other side, I and my crews spend a lot of time in the field and have witnessed the scale of environmental damage committed by careless growers. Especially illegal water diversions, but also illegal grading and extremely careless use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Not to mention the thorough trashing of rural properties by grow-and-blow operators.

    The solution is probably federal legalization. That would bring the grows out of the boonies and make it just another agricultural commodity. Unfortunately for NorCal counties, that would quickly negate the benefits of growing in remote locations. The huge economic windfall being enjoyed for decades by Humboldt and Trinity counties, and to a lesser extent surrounding counties like Shasta, likely would quickly fade away.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      I don’t understand the outright ban county wide, but I’m more than happy with a ban on outdoor grows in residential areas. If joe blow wants to run an auto paint booth out of his home garage, he needs to have the proper ventilation and filtration — why should it be any different for someone commercially growing a skunky plant?

      You can drive down i5 and say “smells like money” as you pass the fiberglass plant or harris ranch, but you certainly don’t want to live next door…

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Taking marijuana off the federal Schedule 1 dangerous narcotics list would solve a lot of problems. It would almost instantly kill the black market for starters. The price would come way down. In the long run, it would lead to less proliferation of pot shops, because as you suggest there wouldn’t be as much money in it. It would also solve the problem of the ongoing incarceration of people on marijuana related offenses, which was one of the main drivers for decriminalization in the first place.

    • Avatar Matthew Meyer says:

      In the almost 22 years since Prop 215 passed, California has done little more than fight with itself over how to regulate cannabis. Almost nothing has been done to fulfill the law’s intent to lobby federal agencies to increase access to cannabis.

      Now we are proceeding on the completely, 100% insane idea that California can, and should, try to rein in its “overproduction” and stop unlicensed market activity and exportation.

      According to the CDFA, the state produced about 13.5 million pounds of cannabis in 2016. Only about 2.5 million pounds were consumed in state, including both licensed and unlicensed sales.

      The bottom line is that more than 80% of California cannabis, worth somewhere north of $10 billion, is destined for export. Only about 5% of 2016 production was sold through licit channels within the state.

      That means that 95% of California’s cannabis production is sold on unregulated markets.

      We are holding up an umbrella against a tidal wave and thinking “this is fine.”

      This may not be a great time to begin vigorous lobbying for federal descheduling, but that’s the best thing that California can do for its citizens. That, and working to provide paths to licensure for existing producers–just the opposite of what Redding is doing by excluding all existing producers and inviting out-of-towners to come and set up warehouse grows.

  11. Avatar Stan w says:

    My father past away yesterday of cancer. He pulled me a side when I was eighteen and said if mess with that shit you will end up doing more drugs and end up in jail. Six months before he pasted he started using edibles to help ease the pain and it allowed him to sleep through the night. He also said I don’t understand what the big deal is with pot, I didn’t lose my mind from it.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      My condolences. I have several older friends who enjoy the benefits of medical marijuana, from everything from insomnia to COPD.

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Stan…sorry about your loss. There are many that come to Cannabis too late, unfortunately.
      Cannabis is not 100% in curing all cancers, but it is the best bet if one wants to use the “Natural” route instead of the Chemical and RX route. The key is to use the Oil First…Not Last!
      Rick Simpson was a Pioneer on this Topic…you can find him on Youtube if you care to learn more.

  12. Avatar conservative says:

    Prop 215 and 64 included the right of local government to regulate and ban pot growing. The Benno jury nullified the law. It would be impossible to get a 12 person jury to convict in California. About 2/3 of Shasta county voters oppose commercial pot growing, not enough for a jury to uphold the text and voters intent with prop 215 and 64.

    I am so glad I don’t live in California and never will. California courts will eventually rule that the the propositions were unconstitutional and no regulation of marijuana is permissible.

    Nevada allowed marijuana sales but makes it almost impossible to grow here. It was a brilliant move by the Democrats, but probably a one time event. Young people turned out to vote for cheaper marijuana, electing a Democrat senator and turning a swing state into one Clinton carried. Nevada’s second congressional district, which has never elected a Democrat, continued Republican, but Washoe County, usually reliably Republican, went for Clinton and Sen. Cortez Masto.

    • Avatar conservative says:

      It is unlikely that Benno could win a civil verdict which requires six votes in California. Shasta county is frequently sued in civil courts and has attorneys on staff who are fixed costs. The county seldom needs to hire outside counsel. It would create a bad precedent for the county to settle out of court on any code enforcement case.

      For example, the jury nullified OJs murder trial when he clearly was guilty. He was not able to win a civil case simply because he was acquitted.

      • Avatar James Benno says:

        No they don’t they hired Best Best and Krieger to fight me they are the most expensive and sold measure A through the League of Cities they got paid to Write Measure A and then get paid again when it’s challenged LOL Best Best and Krieger gets paid at both ends . Good business LOL

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        Sure he could….get the Venue changed to Berkely or Davis….done deal! It would be easy to say that with the News Media in this Area and Simpletons that may get selected that a Bias is a Given here!….I am sure his Attorney is already working on this one….That Tully is a Sharp guy! Although He will probably be too busy to do much if he picks up all that Business in Calaveras County right now!

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      For the record, Benno was raided before Measure A passed. Outdoor growing in line with the requirements of Prop. 215 and SB420 were in full affect, and outdoor growing was not banned in Shasta County. So the jury didn’t nullify that law, it did not apply.

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Not Quite there conservative but an A for effort. Prop 215 states that anyone can come together and grow together that has a Medical Recommendation. The cities and county’s can say NO to growing Outdoors but when Benno was doing it, it was LEGAL outdoors! So your “Jury Nullified the law ” is Not a correct statement.

      On to prop 64. Prop 64 says ANY adult can grow 6 plants Indoors! Period…..subject to Reasonable local regulations ( lighting limits,smell abatement etc etc). The City or County can say NO to Outdoor Growing….but Not Indoor.

      It’s not a Democrat or Republican thing….its a freedom to take care of your own medical and recreational needs thing…. 61% of ALL Americans want it Legalized at the Federal level….Don’t like it…Don’t use it….Don’t like the smell….don’t be around it….don’t like your neighbor growing 50 plants 5 feet way…call it in then!…Simple deal..

      The tide has turned….the cat is out of the bag….the smell is here to stay….the Cancers are being cured by the open minded using the oil….and so it is!

    • Avatar Matthew Meyer says:

      The 2/3 number is incorrect. Although it’s roughly accurate for 2010’s Prop 19 vote and 2014’s Measure A vote, Prop 64 was nearly approved in Shasta County, failing by 48.54% to 51.46%–just over 2,300 votes. http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/CA/Shasta/64166/184224/Web01/en/summary.html

      That’s a pretty close call, particularly when you consider that many cannabis law reform advocates voted against 64 because it’s a massive gentrification of the cannabis market.

  13. Avatar Antonio says:

    Personally, I am sick of having to smell the “skunky” marijuana smell on every evening walk in my sub-division. Liberty until license…Well, the smell hits the License part from my perspective. It is pervasive and annoying and ruins what otherwise would be a delightful walk. That disgusting smell was not present when I bought in that neighborhood twenty years ago, and was not there even a year ago.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I think it’s totally reasonable for you to complain about the smell, and proper zoning for marijuana grows could alleviate that. But calling for an all-out ban you know you can’t enforce creates an environment of fear and intimidation.

    • Avatar George Koen says:

      Anotonio, I do not partake and find the aroma quite pleasant. As is said, one mans’ meat is anothers’ poison.

  14. Avatar George koen says:

    It will always be about the cost to city and county and never about morals let alone common sense. There are common sense, amicable solutions to much of what ails us. (Heaven forbid we bring the feds in to run this town and county in an effort to rid ourselves of idiotic and archaic attitudes and behaviors fueled by the big ol’ boys club that is too dead to realize that it is dead.

    So much research and so many who choose to ignore it just to be able to say I served on BOS/COR. Do they not understand that is not a feather in the cap? (Yeah, rhetorical question). This town and county operate on the principle that the majority is right so that when one person sees fifty people jump into a fire, guess what????

    When animals become a herd, the mentality changes completely. Individual thought is dispensed with post haste in favor or the herd mentality. I think we should call BOS The Herd and COR mini Me.

    • Avatar Julie Hutson says:

      I agree 100% you hit the nail on the head! George Koen..
      Good ol’ boys of Shasta co. Way archaic!!! Need new blood running this co. These guys and gals been in these power seats too long!!!!ttpb?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      This being a Christian town, you’d think there’d be more better angels.

  15. Avatar Julie Hutson says:

    Awesome article I can say I’m not a pot grower,but use it for severe depression/anxiety disorder its natural no bad side effects(except munchies) why can’t it be that they must grow possibly in greenhouses?! That should fix the smell issue.Orders for chem-free fertilizer!? As for Bennos been following that awful injustice,So sad for them…

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Anti-cannabis politicians don’t or either refuse to understand that cannabis can treat a wide variety of mental health issues. Depending on the strain, it can be a mood stabilizer, a sedative, or an antidepressant. In layman’s terms, people smoke or otherwise consume weed because it makes them feel better. They’re far less likely to say, shoot up a school, than someone on SSRI medication.

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        Agreed….but you have this Medical or Psychological thing called “Cognitive Dissonance” at play…..I don’t want to hear anything ( Don ‘t provide me with any facts here, I already know its bad)…. The, I already know it’s a bad thing attitude…..as they say…we are only One Generation away from some Real Change in this Country!

        The youngsters coming up….like the ones that got shot up….they will be voting here shortly!…..my guess is about 80% of them will want it legal at the federal level…..some of these kids today know 100X more than some of these old farts with severe C. D. on the topic…..That Wave out in the Ocean….it’s getting Bigger….and it’s due to hit shore in the near future….for sure in 2020 if not 2018!

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        Perhaps the Chinese DID know something about it helping 2500 years ago….Follow the Money as always……RX companies won’t go down without a fight!

  16. Avatar pam says:

    The way I see it, they are doing us a favor…right now, pounds are only 250 dollars. DOWN from 1200.00.

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Pounds are $250?….that alone should kill the Black Market! Perhaps this Legalization avenue IS working then. Pam where did you see Pounds for that cheap? In Shasta County or Trinity? That certainly is not a Legal price….not a chance.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        Narcoticsnews says a pound in California runs anywhere from $250 for low grade in SD to $4,000 for high grade in SF.

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          Wow….from Ragweed to Golden Weed…..quite a spread there! Legalize it at the Federal level or at least take it off the Schedule 1 and game is Over! Not sure I will see this in my lifetime…but one can hope!

  17. Avatar Rose says:

    Thank you for the informative article R.V. At the City of Shasta Lake City Council meeting tonight Councilwoman Powell quoted information from your article during the discussion on personal cultivation of cannabis in our city.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      It sounds like the City of Shasta Lake has made a reasonable effort to allow some outdoor personal growing. That’s good. I’m still trying to find out what happened at Redding’s city council meeting last night.