The Merced County Sheriff’s Office took down another illegal marijuana grow in the Ballico area of Merced County. On May 18, 2018, Deputies Ibarra and Bucio along with the rest of the Marijuana Enforcement Team served a search warrant in the 8900 block of East Avenue in Ballico.

During the service of the search warrant, Deputy Kent utilized the sheriff office UAV for security purposes and watched 11 individuals run from the property as deputies arrived. Two subjects were detained during the investigation and later arrested for the violations of H&S 11358 and MMC 9.29.060.

Deputies confiscated more than 150 pounds of dried and processed marijuana and eradicated 3,496 plants from two large green houses.

Sheriff Vern Warnke wants to remind everyone that the Merced County Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing the cultivation laws regarding marijuana that the county has put in place starting in 2018. All outdoor marijuana grows are illegal and will be dealt with immediately and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Additionally, you are only allowed to grow 6 plants indoors. If you have questions about the laws regarding cultivation and possession of marijuana, please call the Merced County Sheriff’s Office 209-385-7445. The new County Cannabis Ordinance details are as follows:

Personal Cultivation Restrictions reasonably regulated (Ord. 9.29.060):
• Personal use cannabis plants limited from twelve (12) to six (6)
• Cultivation can occur in either 1) within a single private residence; or 2) inside a fully enclosed and secure structure located upon the grounds of a private residence. Outdoor cultivation of any type, on any parcel is prohibited.
• Cultivation must comply with Building and Construction Code, Title 16.
• Cultivation cannot be conducted in a manner that constitutes a public nuisance.

Enforcement – penalty/consequences for noncompliance unchanged from previous Medical Marijuana Cultivation ordinance
• Administrative Penalties for unlawful cannabis cultivation(Ordinance 9.29.083)
• All violations deemed a misdemeanor; Sheriff has ability to abate unlawful cannabis cultivation (Ord. 9.29.200)

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