California county can protect identities of registered medical marijuana growers
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California county can protect identities of registered medical marijuana growers

Mendocino : CA : USA | Apr 14, 2013 at 11:55 PM PDT
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Mendocino County: Medical Marijuana Capital of the USA

A Northern California county that allowed registered medical marijuana growers to buy permits for up to 99 plants will not have to reveal their identities to federal authorities.

US prosecutors dropped their legal demands for growers' names at a hearing Friday in federal court in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

Mendocino agreed to turn over information about program finances but not "confidential, private medical information of medical marijuana patients, cultivators and activists," said Adam Wolf, a lawyer for the Emerald Growers Association of Redway, Calif.

The EGA represents hundreds of growers and supporters in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, the newspaper said.

The office of Melinda Haag, the US Attorney for Northern California, declined to comment on the settlement.

But Haag said last year that California's medical marijuana program had been "hijacked" by profiteers, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Mendocino County ended its 99-plant program in January 2012 after federal authorities threatened to sue under an Obama administration-authorized crackdown on California's medical marijuana industry.

The state legalized cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes in 1996 when voters approved Proposition 215, but left regulation to local communities.

California imposed a regulatory scheme in 2003, authorizing the state Department of Public Health to issue medical marijuana identification cards.

Mendocino became the first county to establish its own regulatory scheme in 2010, when it allowed residents to buy permits allowing them to grow marijuana plants.

After it suspended the 99-plant permit under pressure from federal authorities, the county allowed residents to buy permits for up to 25 plants, the newspaper said.

But the feds requested the names and locations of registered growers under both programs, the newspaper said, resulting in Friday's agreement.

Mendocino Supervisor John McCowen, who had proposed the ordinance that created the programs, said they had raised $750,000 in fees in 2010 and 2011, the newspaper said.

The federal crackdown on medical marijuana has led to the closures of more than 400 dispensaries in California, the newspaper said.

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Medical marijuana on display at a dispensary in Los Angeles, California
Medical marijuana on display at a dispensary in Los Angeles, California
Nathan Salant is based in San Francisco, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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