Yuba County Declares Local State of Emergency over Illegal Pot Grows

YUBA COUNTY -- Yuba County is taking extra measures to keep pot-related crime down before recreational cannabis becomes legal in the state on Monday.

The county's board of directors held a special meeting Thursday morning to declare a local state of emergency because of the spike in illegal marijuana grows it's seen.

The board voted unanimously to pass the resolution, but not everyone was happy.

"Leave the patients out of this," a medicinal cannabis grower said. "You've also taken the rights from people like me to grow."

Supervisor Randy Fletcher says he's seen illegal grow operations pop up all over the foothills.

"As you get into the rural areas, of course the land has some space. Most of our locations are 5, 10, 20-acre parcels and that's where people like to grow," Fletcher said.

The county says it doesn't have the proper staff of budget to effectively police its growing concern.

Sheriff Steve Duror says when he took office in 2007, the sheriff's department had 51 deputies. Since then, budgets have been cut and some deputies have been assigned to other tasks.

"I'm currently sitting today on 26 deputy sheriffs that are available to police the county," Durfor said.

There are also environmental concerns, the county says.

"The growers are contaminating the soil, putting pesticides - uncontrolled pesticides - on their marijuana," Fletcher said.

Many expressed concern at the meeting about public safety after two Yuba County deputies were shot in August after reports that someone was stealing plants from an illegal, outdoor grow.

"It has significantly elevated the sense of urgency and emotion in our community that two of their deputies were shot," the sheriff said. "It stemmed and revolved around an illegal grow operation."

Thursday's decision did not affect the current growing ordinance -- residents are allowed to grow outside and only six plants are allowed to grow inside.