Marijuana plants gone, but are they really abated?

Leaves might be falling, but the cost of growing cannabis during Plumas County’s moratorium has gone up for at least one grower in the Indian Valley area.

Nikoula Wangard went before Plumas County Cannabis Code Enforcement hearing officer Lynn Strom in September and again in October.

Strom agreed to continue the hearing for Wangard for a month, while he contacted an attorney.

By the Oct. 10 meeting he had accumulated $28,000 in fines and expenses, according to Deputy Ed Obayashi, code enforcement officer. Fines went into effect Sept. 18, when he received his first abatement order, according to Det. Chris Hendrickson.

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Although each household can legally grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use in California, Wangard was far over that amount, according to Hendrickson’s tally. Approximately 60 marijuana plants were found growing outside on the property Wangard owned jointly with another individual. Another 20 to 30 plants were growing inside.

The problem, according to Obayashi, is that Wangard has not provided evidence that his marijuana plants were abated.

Under the cannabis code, individuals who are told to abate their plants must show evidence of the abatement, according to Hendrickson.

In the past, most growers have shown piles of cut plants to sheriff’s officers. In at least one case, code enforcement officers counted the number of stems to see if all of the plants were eliminated and if the number matched their original count.

Growers can also produce a signed statement that plants have been abated by either cutting them down, or transporting them to a county where commercial growing is legal.

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But none of that has allegedly happened, according to Obayashi.

The Plumas County Board of Supervisors imposed a moratorium against growing more than six marijuana plants. The code enforcement team began enforcing that moratorium in July.