City Council Approves Funds for Dedicated Pot Enforcement Team

SACRAMENTO -- The city of Sacramento is committed to a new way of weeding out illegal marijuana operations within city limits.

The council has granted a police department request for $850,000 for a dedicated pot enforcement team of three sergeants and 12 officers.

"I'm leaving it up there, she made it, my other daughter did," giggled Naomi Smith.

A big smile comes easy for Smith as she talks about knickknacks around the house she's called home for 44 years.

"The neighborhood, when we moved here, it was ideal for raising children," she said.

But lately, some have thought it was ideal for raising pot.

A house just a few doors down on Collingwood was busted last month for a massive illegal pot grow -- 480 plants, dozens of money counting machines. The raid there was part of a successful pilot program Sacramento City Council just voted to make permanent.

It's a team effort between police, fire and code enforcement to shut down illegal grows and the residual crime that can take root right along with them.

"To do nothing, means to leave constituents, neighbors, communities in an situation that is unacceptable," said Eric Guerra, city councilman for District 6.

Since Councilwoman Angelique Ashby pushed for a different kind of crackdown back in July through tweaks to city ordinances, Sacramento has made 10 arrests, completed voluntary removal of illegal grows from 614 homes and collected $6.8 million in fines.

It's a very different situation than just a few months ago.

"They couldn't for example, seize the plants, the couldn't seize the grow lights, they couldn't. They didn't have high fines, or fees or penalties to go after the per plant ratio," she said.

You can legally tend six plants at home.

Now each one found over that number will cost you $500  in fines -- each plant -- a pruning of the profit motive.

"It's a good plan. We need that because we don't want that in our neighborhood. We don't need that with our children. Some of them have to walk to school and that's not good, going by homes like that, because you just never know," said Smith.

The city will be sending out informational post cards, reminding the public that the legal limit for a home grow is six plants.

Once legal recreational pot operations start bringing in revenue next year, some of those permitting fees will be used to help pay for enforcement against those breaking the law.