Mendocino County Sued Over New Marijuana Rules

A conservationist group that says marijuana grows are wreaking havoc on the environment has filed a lawsuit against Mendocino County for failing to conduct an environmental review before easing cultivation rules last month.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors passed the urgency ordinance on an interim basis on May 17, allowing up to 99 plants to be grown on a 10-acre parcel with a permit from the Sheriff’s Office or 25 plants per parcel without a permit. But it was obligated by state law to conduct an environmental study first, according to the Mendocino County Blacktail Association, a group dedicated to the conservation of the Columbian black-tailed deer. Now they are asking for an injunction to halt the ordinance until the county studies its potential impact on wildlife.

“The impacts from this rapidly growing industry must be analyzed fairly, just as logging, roads, agriculture and housing must do,” said the group’s president, Paul Trouette. He and his organization maintain that marijuana cultivation can lead to a host of environmental problems, including the poisoning of wildlife, contamination of streams, deforestation and erosion from illegal grading.

The county has refused to comment on the lawsuit. However, they say the ordinance is actually aimed at protecting wildlife amid new state regulations that are already attracting new marijuana growers to the region.

Mendocino is just one of many local governments trying to figure out how to deal with the state’s new regulatory framework for medical marijuana. It isn’t the only county drawing ire from environmentalist groups either. Humboldt County is facing a similar legal challenge as a result of regulations it adopted in January.

Read more about the lawsuit against Mendocino County here.