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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Marijuana permits bring in $300,000
    The money coming in to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office from its permitting program for medical marijuana growers has doubled in the last month to just more than $300,000, according to MCSO Administrative Services Manager Norm Thurston.

    An April 20 analysis of the account that holds the money showed as of that date, the program had brought in $152,070. By Friday, the total was up to $300,325. Sheriff Tom Allman noted three more permit-seekers were on their way in Friday, adding $4,500 to the total.

    "It's been coming in at a pretty good clip," Thurston said of the recent jump in revenue from the medical marijuana program.

    The county's medical marijuana ordinance, codified as Chapter 9.31 of the Mendocino County Code, allows anyone with a doctor's recommendation for marijuana to grow up to 25 plants per parcel, or for cooperatives to get a permit from the Sheriff's Office to grow up to 99 plants per parcel. The Sheriff's Office also sells zip ties that can be affixed to each plant to show they are legally grown according to state and local standards.

    The Sheriff's Office brought in $65,270 in zip tie fees and $41,350 in permit fees and garden inspection fees between July 1 and April 20, according to Thurston's analysis.

    The $152,000 total as of April 20 also included $45,450 from District Attorney David Eyster's restitution program for growers who didn't comply with the program, Thurston noted.

    The money that's come in for the medical marijuana program since April 20 hasn't yet been broken down into zip tie revenue and permit revenue, Thurston said, but it has more than met Allman's expectations.

    Allman stood before the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors in January to ask for more time before the board approved the latest round of layoffs for his department, saying the money from the medical marijuana program was expected to start rolling in around the beginning of spring, when growers began planting.

    At the time, he estimated the zip ties and permit fees -- established last year in time for this growing season -- would generate between $300,000 and $400,000 for his department.

    Fourth District Supervisor Kendall Smith and others on the board called the sheriff's projections "funny money," pooh-poohing the idea and opting instead to approve seven layoffs in his department. The decision meant a net loss of two correctional officers in the county jail after two deputies were transferred to positions paid for with federal grant money and two sergeants took pay cuts when they were demoted to deputies.

    Allman predicted his program would issue 100 permits. As of Friday, the Sheriff's Office had received 41 permit applications since January.
    "I think we're still on track for 100," Allman said.

    Referring to Smith's "funny money" comment, Allman said, "You can call it whatever you want, but if it keeps deputy sheriffs on the streets there's nothing funny about it."

    The Daily Journal
    Updated: 05/28/2011



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